In Memoriam

Ashutosh Rajendra Thakkar '04
In sports, theater and life, he would not be sidelined.

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Ashutosh "Bunty" Thakkar's life was one of challenges and contrasts. Born prematurely, he was dogged by severe allergies, asthma and other illnesses. "Once, when he was very sick with kidney problems, his doctor told him he would never dance again," says his cousin Parag Shah. "Two days after leaving the hospital, he was working out. He made a career out of proving the doctors wrong."

In high school in Wakefield, Mass., he played football (and participated in baseball and track) despite his short stature, competing against players who towered over him. Early on, his parents, Rajendra and Kashmira Thakkar, suppressed their anxiety and decided to let him live his life and "do whatever he wanted to do."

At UNH, Thakkar majored in theater and dance. He acted, sang and danced in plays and musicals ranging from "Grease" to "The Pirates of Penzance." Working at Walt Disney World after graduation, he relished his role as a Chip 'n' Dale chipmunk.

He was always in shape, says Shah: "He was very tough. He reminded me of a badger." Thakkar's younger brother, Sajan, credits his own success in college football to Thakkar's knowledge of the game and their disciplined workouts. In 2006, Thakkar returned to Wakefield High School, where he coached freshman football and became the dance team's assistant coach.

Thakkar's many bouts of illness made him especially compassionate, says his friend Jon Wells '06. Before his first UNH performance, Wells had a case of nerves; Thakkar reminded him that there were six men in the dance company, all there "to help the others have the best show of their life."

His friendliness made Thakkar popular all over campus and beyond, says Wells, who remembers that it was impossible to get through a dining hall or a trip into Portsmouth without people stopping Thakkar to chat.

Thakkar's chronic health problems and bizarre accidents—he was once badly bitten by a black widow spider—sent him to the hospital more than 30 times. On Nov. 2, he was treated for serious liver and pancreatic problems, but his friends were not surprised to get a tweet from him the next day saying he was "working out...with a vengeance." Thakkar had had several near-death experiences, Shah says, but always bounced back. But this time there would be no bouncing back. On Nov. 4, Sajan sent Thakkar's friends a tweet saying, "Bunty passed away this morning."

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