Udaya Dash was born in a household without running water in the small village of Ranch Sashan in Orissa. To go from there to become a doctor and come to the USA in the early fifties was no small achievement. He became a very successful orthopedic surgeon and soon married the charming and cultured Ira. They were amongst the first Indians in this area and promptly became mentors for the new Indian families to come to the area.
Professional and financial success soon came but Udaya never forgot his humble beginnings. They built a small school (eventually to become a junior college), a small medical clinic (eventually to become a small hospital) in Ranch Sashan. I had the honor of serving as Treasurer of their Charitable Organization and so was privy to the amount of funds they had donated in India and the figures were mind boggling.
The Dashs’ soon realized that the young Indian community needed a place of their own to provide a focus for the burgeoning activities, to foster camaraderie and preserve their culture and heritage. Udaya was instrumental in the acquisition of the land where the present Mahatma Gandhi Center and the Hindu Temple stand. He used all means, begging, cajoling, guilty tripping and appealing to the better sense of the community to collect funds for the Center. He practiced what he preached and led by example, being the major contributor of “Tan, Man and Dhan” for the Center. Today the site has become the major locus and hub for all the activities in the area.
It can very safely be said that the Dashs’ are the reason why it is the hub that it is. The Dashs’ moved to Florida after retiring and continued their charitable ways there too.
Ira and Udaya Dash, we are blessed that you came into our lives. Indians and India need many more the likes of you.