Remembering Hari Singh Everest

everest.jpgGuestblogged by Mewa Singh.

A young and vibrant community in the diaspora, it is incumbent upon us to remember our trailblazers. Hari Singh Everest was one such person. I remember reading his name during my undergraduate days. Stumbling across the ‘Sikh Review’, when I should have been completing other studies, it was the first time I had read a literate Sikh journal in English. Skimming the names of editors and contributors on the back, I noticed one from my very own California – Yuba City to be exact. Hari Singh Everest. I didn’t know him, but the unusual last name stuck in my head.

It would be years later when I finally met him. Some years ago the Jakara Movement decided to sponsor the efforts of all the collegitate Californian Sikh Students Associations (SSAs) in building a unity float. Since then, the float at the Yuba City Nagar Kirtan has become an annual affair.. The Everest Family graciously opened their home and it was on one such opportunity that I got to sit down with Hari Singh and speak to him. I mentioned that I had read his name on that Sikh Review issue years ago and he smiled. He talked about his experiences in the Sikh community and as being a sort of ambassador during those early years. It is a conversation I cherish.

His life in the United States stretches back to the 1950s (before the ‘Great Society’ immigration policy of LBJ) and his life in Yuba City goes back to 1961.

His accomplishments run long. I take a few samplings here:

He was a resident of Yuba City for the past 50 years. In that time, he became the first South Asian to teach in the Yuba-Sutter school system, teaching for 20 years until his retirement in 1981. His volunteer work included residing on the: California Department of Education Ethnic Advisory Council, PG&E consumer Advisory Panel, Sutter County Juvenile Justice Commission in which he earned ‘The Rodger Kunde’ Youth Leader of the Year Award for Outstanding Service to Youth 1990 and thePolicy Council.

He dedicated much of his life to contribute to the Sikh way of life. He was an integral figure in the building of the first Gurdwara in Yuba City, and was the first stage secretary, serving as a spokesman and community representative for the Tierra Buena Gurdwara. He was the president of United Sikhs for Human Rights. He was the US representative for the Sikh Review and served as editor of the Sikh Sansar magazine. He also contributed to creating a directory of Sikhs in the United States. While in India, he even started his own magazine titled “PremPujari.” [see Dr. Jasbir Kang’s obituary here with information on the bhog]

Sometimes the passing of an individual goes beyond only that of a family. Sometimes a person gains the stature and respect of the community. Hari Singh Everest was one such person.

Those that give themselves only to themselves are not remembered; those that give themselves to their family are remembered by their family; those that gives themselves to their community are remembered by their community.

Hari Singh Everest gave to the community.

A life of service. A life of trailblazing. A life of family. A life of Sikhi. A life that will be remembered.


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4 Responses to “Remembering Hari Singh Everest”

  1. Harpreet Singh says:

    Our "Pita Ji" gave us so much and asked for so little. We are so blessed to have shared our lives with him, and will continue to celebrate his life now that his soul has left this physical world to join our eternal Guru. From my entire family, thank you for posting this.

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