Dalip Singh Sidhu, 81, of Boston, Massachusetts, passed away Sunday, July 7th, 2019, at Beth Israel Hospital surrounded by close family and friends. He was known for his humor, strong will, and passionate personality. His welcoming and friendly attitude always brought smiles to the faces of family, friends, and strangers who came into his circle. Above all, he liked to make his own decisions and live life on his own terms.
The husband of Tripta Kumari Sidhu, he leaves his son Naveen Sidhu of Washington, D.C., Nishith Sidhu of Boston, MA, and Nishchal Sidhu of Cambridge, MA, their respective partners, three granddaughters, and one great-granddaughter.
Born in pre-partition India to a wealthy and happy Punjabi farming family in 1938, Dalip lost his father and was thrust into poverty when India was partitioned and had to work menial jobs in order to help his family survive. Even so, he made sure to borrow books from other children so he could educate himself even as he was laboring to support his family.
A natural leader, he found purpose and meaning through the labor movement of the 1950s and 60s. He often recounted being politicized early and “throwing his first rock” at a strike when he was still a young child. He was gifted in oratory, negotiation, and organizing, and he soon joined the Congress Party of India and its trade union division, the Indian National Trade Union Congress, quickly rising up the ranks to become the General Secretary of the Punjab state wing.
Amidst his organizing and familial obligations, Dalip found time for exercise and other hobbies. Wrestling was one of his most successful hobbies, and he participated at both the national and international level. He also loved the spotlight and spent time as an actor. After participating in a few plays, he went to Bollywood where he was selected for a movie directed by Satyajit Ray, after which he decided to refocus his talents on his true passions - the labor movement and helping people suffering from poverty.
Despite the grandeur of Dalip’s titles in the labor movement, the work of organizing was dangerous and risky. His life was occupied by hunger strikes, rallies, protests, and collective bargaining for basic labor rights such as sick time, bereavement time, and fair wages. At one point, a mail bomb was sent to a strike at a textile mill in his hometown of Phagwara, Punjab. Falsely accused of planting the bomb, Dalip was jailed. He was eventually released, but it became clear that, if he got married and chose to have a family, he would have to leave the turbulent life of union organizing. He eventually did propose to his wife, Tripta Sidhu, after pursuing her for seven years. After marriage, he left both the labor movement and India itself.
In 1975, soon after the birth of their first child, Naveen, the family emigrated to the United States. Faced with the prospect of building a new life from the ground up, Dalip and Tripta threw themselves into their work and familial duties. Harkening back to his old days as a wrestler, Dalip encouraged his children to be active in exercise, martial arts, and sports, and he could often be found on the sidelines of his sons’ soccer or baseball games cheering them on. He could equally be found in the kitchen packing a healthy lunch or cooking a mouth-watering dinner. No matter the endeavor, Dalip always encouraged his children to do their best, to take risks, and to live life with confidence.
Dalip will be remembered as a headstrong and loving man who could entertain with his sharp wit and consummate storytelling, especially those about the old Bollywood performers he loved. His love of healthy eating also often took him to the garden, where he and his wife could make anything grow with their four green thumbs. His inclusive conviviality, compassion for those suffering, and passion for social justice are parts of the legacy that he leaves to his family and to all whose lives he touched.
Dalip's funeral services will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 13th. The wake will begin at 9 a.m. followed by the cremation at 10:45 a.m. The location of the wake and cremation are:
Lucy Stone Chapel
171 Walk Hill Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
A spiritual service will be held from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m at the following location:
Gurudwara Sikh Sangat Boston
10 Thorndike Street
Everett, MA 02149
Please note, head coverings are provided at the entrance to the spiritual services and must be worn by both men and women while in the Gurudwara. Women may feel free to bring a dupatta/scarf, however. Food will be provided at the end of the service. Attendees will be sitting on the floor for the service, though some limited bench sitting will be available during lunch.
Parking is available at the Gurudwara, as well as street parking that will be set off on Thorndike Street. However, if additional parking is needed, there is parking located at the Encore Casino nearby.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to Oxfam International at the following link: https://www.oxfamgifts.com/gifts/donate-in-someones-memory/ The Honoree’s name is Dalip Sidhu, and emails can be sent to Rishi at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cards can be sent to Tripta Sidhu at 6 Westminster Street, Hyde Park, MA 02136.
If you would like to send flowers, please be aware that flowers for the funeral service must be delivered to the Lucy Stone Chapel on the morning of Saturday, July 13th ONLY. Flowers at any time may also be sent to Tripta Sidhu, 6 Westminster Street, Hyde Park, MA 02136.
Attire: Standard funeral attire.
Due to the rush with which we are sending this notice, we may have missed certain people who would like to come to the service. Please feel free to notify friends of Tripta and Dalip who would like to pay their respects this Saturday.
Thank you for your support,
The Sidhu Family