November 15, 1938 – February 22, 2022
On Tuesday, February 22, 2022, Megha Shyam, 83, passed away peacefully after a brief illness, surrounded by her loving family. Megha was a valued professional engineer, having worked for Hewlett Packard at Corvallis for 13 years, where he was responsible for designing integrated circuits for early portable calculators and for HP computers. Later he was a successful entrepreneur, continuing to work with HP, Texas Instruments, and other electronics companies. Most notably, his life was characterized by love of family, many warm friendships, and devotion to his spiritual community.
Megha was born in a small village in India as one of eight children, seven boys and one girl. He graduated in Electrical Engineering from Mysore University, Bangalore and in Electrical Communications Engineering from Indian Institute of Science, also in Bangalore. In 1961, he was offered a scholarship to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an offer that marked the beginning of a 60-year stay in the United States.
After two years at Harvard, he transferred to Stanford University, where he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering. He introduced an innovation in the engineering curriculum of the time: an oral examination, so that students were encouraged to develop the facility needed to explain difficult engineering concepts in simple terms. He called moving to California the “best decision” he had ever made in his life, as California was where he flourished academically and found both the Baha’i Faith and his wife of 43 years, Jeannie.
In 1965 Megha encountered the Baha’i Faith and her life changed dramatically. He became an active participant in the activities of his new faith and was soon elected to the local board of directors in Palo Alto, California. Soon after, he was appointed to the board of directors of the Baha’i school in nearby Geyserville. When Highway 101 bisected the Geyserville property and it was acquired through eminent domain by the State of California, Megha worked with the Geyserville council to acquire and develop the property near Santa Cruz which would become Bosch Bahá’í School, Retreat and Conference Center. In 1972 he was appointed to a committee of the National Bahá’í Office to expand the Bahá’í Learning Center System, a voluntary mission that took him across the United States.
He met and wooed Jeannie Saylor Hendon after meeting her at a Baha’i event in California. Soon, Megha received a job offer for Hewlett-Packard, and after a nearly year-long courtship, the two were married in June 1978 in Paradise, California; Jeannie and her two daughters from a previous marriage joined Megha in Corvallis where Megha and Jeannie spent their 43 years of marriage. A highlight of their life together was attending the 1986 inauguration of the Baha’i House of Worship (Lotus Temple) in Delhi, India. Megha retired from HP in 1990 to start her own company and spent the next six years traveling on behalf of the new company.
After her full retirement in 2002, Megha and Jeannie were able to travel to India for family visits and Megha devoted her time to researching her Indian culture and studying the Quran.
His greatest interest throughout his life was to support the education and capacity building of young people – a quality which undoubtedly emerged from his family’s close association with Mahatma Ghandi. He mentored many young people and was always ready to help in any way he could, including cooking delicious Indian food for youth gatherings.
In addition to serving in many capacities in the Baha’i community of Corvallis, Megha has generously given her time as a volunteer to the NAACP, Corvallis Ambassadors, We Care, Gifts for a Better World, Corvallis MLK Commission and the Corvallis Riverfront Improvement Task Force, to name a few. He also derived great joy from his many friendships at Fitness over Fifty and its longtime band of men.
He was predeceased by his parents, seven brothers, daughter-in-law Patti Fenner and son-in-law Matthew Hendon. He is survived by his beloved wife Jeannie, his sister Padma Curam, his daughter-in-law, Dr. Lorri Hendon (Adel Faridani), and their two children Stefan and Thea, grandchildren Samantha Vannatta and Brendon Fenner. Furthermore, he is survived by his sisters-in-law, KS Indu and Pushpa Sreeharsha; as well as these nieces and nephews: the children of his sister Padma Curam: Sridar, Ravi, Bharath, Krishna and Meera; Shobhana Radhakrishna; Bharathi Narayan; KR Chandrahas; members of the Sreeharsha family: Vinod and Kavitha; Mamata and KS Sridhar; Curam Vardaraj; Uma Camasamudram; and many other spouses, children and grandchildren of his nieces and nephews.
Donations in honor of his community service may be made to the Linn Benton Chapter of the NAACP.