Obituary of Gattu Nageswara Rao, MD
Dr. Gattu Nageswara Rao, son of Gattu Mallaiah and Sanjeeva Chetty, peacefully passed away on June 27th, 2023 at his home in Menands, New York at the age of 82 years.
The eldest son and second child of eleven children, Gattu N. Rao was born on January 25, 1941 in the town of Adoni, Andhra Pradesh in India. A very determined individual, he received his Medical Degree from Kurnool Medical College in 1963 and his Master of Surgery from Sri Venkateswara University in 1966. He married his wife, Sarada (Polepalle) Rao on May 25, 1967. In their early years of marriage they lived in Tirupati where he practiced surgery and medicine. Additionally, he was a Professor at Sri Venkateswara University. In 1969, they welcomed their daughter, Shoba and in 1971 they welcomed their second daughter, Pratima.
In 1971 seeking greater opportunities, he came to America when physicians were needed most and extended his career in medicine. His wife and two daughters joined him in 1972. Upon completion of his surgical residency and cardiothoracic and vascular fellowship training in New York City, he and his wife moved their family to Troy, New York in 1978. In 1980, they welcomed their son, Nagesh and in 1982, they welcomed their daughter, Panisri.
Gattu N. Rao deeply loved his work as a physician and as a surgeon. Gattu N. Rao practiced at St. Mary’s Hospital, Samaritan Hospital, and Leonard Hospital in Troy and had offices in Nassau and Watervliet. He introduced laparoscopic surgery in his practice and published on the viability of this new, less invasive surgical technique. It was often recalled that “Dr. Rao saved my life” through his gift as a highly-skilled surgeon. Most recently prior to retiring he made the proactive decision to put his retirement on hold in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing healthcare shortages, he felt it was not the right time to abandon his community and remained in practice one additional year. He finally retired in December 2021, at the age of 80, after practicing medicine for over 50 years.
Gattu N. Rao’s leadership and service was widely felt in the medical communities in the area. He made an impact through his multiple commitments, including service as the President of the Rensselaer County Medical Society. He was also Chief of Surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, New York and developed the Vascular Lab in the mid 1980’s, which was advanced at the time.
Gattu N. Rao was a devout Hindu, and since 1978, Gattu N. Rao was deeply committed to establishing the vibrant Hindu and Indian communities in the upstate New York Capital Region. He served in numerous leadership positions for the Albany Hindu Temple Society, including Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees and also was a member of the Board of Governors until his passing. At the Albany Hindu Temple, Gattu N. Rao held a critical role in the construction of the current temple facilities through his vision, guidance, leadership, and financial contributions. He, personally, oversaw the installation of the Naga Devatha idols, Lord Nageswara, Sri Nagarani Devi, and Sri Nagakanya Devi. This held special significance to him as his mother had prayed to Lord Naga in order to have children. It is, for this special belief, that Gattu N. Rao, all four children, and all grandchildren carry a version of “Naga” in their names.
An important legacy was Gattu N. Rao’s leadership in the Temple community and in establishing the annual Hindu Temple fundraiser and cultural program. This flagship program was widely enjoyed for growing awareness of the Hindu and Indian traditions with song and dance performances from invited and local performing artists. An additional extraordinary and memorable experience, which Gattu N. Rao arranged multiple times, was to bring the famous Padma Bhushan Bharatnatyam choreographer, Vempati Chinna Satyam to Albany to perform dance dramas, including the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Samudhra Manthana. Additionally, Gattu N. Rao served as the past President of the Tri-City India Association and remained an active member of this organization.
Gattu N. Rao, along with his wife, were strongly committed to the education of girls. His father and grandfather donated land and funds to establish the Gattu Mallaiah Chetty Government Junior College and Gattu Veeraiah Chetty Government Girls High School institutions for girls in Adoni, India. He gave several Independence Day speeches at the schools, most recently in 2019. This legacy and service continues into the next generation.
Dr. Gattu Nageswara Rao was a loving and compassionate husband, father, and grandfather. He is survived by his devoted wife Mrs. Sarada Rao of 56 years, his three daughters (Shoba, Pratima, and Panisri) and his son (Nagesh) and their respective spouses (Ram, Robert, Vasu, and Kali) as well as his eight grandchildren (Alekhya, Anushka, Thorin, Sonia, Sita, Svar, Nahthan, and Julien). He also leaves behind an extended family both in India and the United States.
Funeral services will be held on Friday (06/30/2023) from 12PM -1:30PM at Oakwood Cemetery, 50 101st St, Troy, NY 12180.
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