The late Dilip Butani is being lauded for his service to the community and is being remembered as a person of grace. (photo provided)

CERRITOS, Calif. — As accolades and warm words of appreciation about Dilip Butani poured in, the Southern California community continued to grapple with his sudden passing on Dec. 5, while on vacation in India.

The 70-year-old Butani was well known among Indian Americans because of his involvement in various community-based organizations. Uniformly, almost all those who spoke with India-West mentioned his “decency” and declared him a “gentleman.”

Family and friends in the know said he had gone on vacation with his wife Ratna to Dubai and then on to India where the couple stayed in their flat in Colaba, Mumbai. They were scheduled to return to Los Angeles on Dec. 7 when tragedy struck.

A family member said he was completely fine and was posting and sending messages on Facebook and Whatsapp till late on that fateful day. He then complained of severe dizziness to his wife. With the help of neighbors, he was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead with a massive heart attack reported as the cause.

Amrit Bhandari, a friend, said he was stunned by what had happened. He said he had been in Mumbai, too, and along with Butani, had planned on a dinner meeting with music director Jatin Pandit on Dec. 4. Butani had cancelled the appointment to be with his family and, instead, Bhandari said he had received the call of his passing a short while later. “It was so sudden, he was healthy. He was a vegetarian and a teetotaler.”

Kewal Kanda, another friend who worked closely with Butani, said they had been in touch through the latter’s vacation, joking and ribbing each other, so when he learned of his colleague’s demise he was dumbfounded. He averred that Butani will be remembered for all the work he had put in for the community.

That work involved several official positions including in the Federation of Indian American Associations, Lions Club of Little India, Indian American Republicans of California, Federation of Indian Community of Southern California, and GOPIO.

Butani began his career as an attorney with the Motor Accidents Tribunal in Mumbai before moving to Los Angeles in 1993. He ran the 1-800-Conroys floral business for a few years. In 2005 he joined the County of Orange to work with Social Services and was apparently readying to retire from the job. He also ran a private insurance firm.

Butani leaves behind a loving family that includes his wife Ratna; two sons, Arit and Virit; two daughters-in-law and three granddaughters. The third of four siblings, he leaves behind brother Kash Butani in Mississippi, sisters Rani Hingorani and Bharrti Kumar and their families in California.

The last rites for Dilip Butani were held in Mumbai on Dec. 8.

Community members in Los Angeles said they planned on holding a memorial service soon.

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