One of the early leaders of the local Sikh community, Mohinder Singh Ghag, died Oct. 11 at Adventist Health/Rideout. He was 89.
Ghag was born in Burma March 29, 1931, to Babu Pal Singh and Kartar Kaur Ghag and was raised in Punjab, India, in the village of Athouli. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical physics from Doaba College in Jalandhar, India, in 1953.
After college, Ghag bought a piece of property in the jungles of Uttar Pradesh near the Nepalese border, where he and his wife, Amrek, and their small children transformed jungle land into a successful farm, according to a spokesperson for the family.
In 1963 Ghag traveled to England on a special visa, but soon was summoned to the United States by his youngest sister, Mohinderjit Kaur Thiara. In December of that year he settled in Live Oak and became a leader in the burgeoning Sikh community, also establishing himself as a successful farmer.
He worked the land into his final day, raising peaches, prunes, walnuts and kiwi.
Ghag was an internationally acclaimed writer, poet and philosopher in both English and Punjabi, primarily on the topics of farming, Sikhism, politics, life and friendship. His most recent works were published by Punjabi University, Patiala, Press. He founded an international society of writers, for which he gained acclaim in his native Punjab.
Ghag was instrumental in the founding of the Yuba City Sikh Festival. He also was a founding member of the Punjabi Sahit Sabha Society Yuba City-Sacramento, a founding member of the Gridley-Live Oak Sikh Temple, and served on the board of directors for the Sri Guru Nanak Sikh Temple Bogue Road.
He was dedicated to preserving ancestral heritage through education, and was instrumental in starting the first Punjabi class taught at Live Oak High School, according to a family member.
He served as a delegate to the Democratic State Convention in 2012. He served on the Board of Directors for Gridley-Biggs Memorial Hospital, was a director of the Live Oak Schools Foundation and a member of Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau. He also was actively involved in the California Cling Peach Association, as well as in the Live Oak Lions and Kiwanis clubs.
He loved to share fruit from his garden.
He is survived by his wife, Amrek Kaur Ghag, of Live Oak; son Lakhvir Singh Ghag and his wife Amarjit of Live Oak; and daughters Sharon Ghag (husband Brian VanderBeek) of Salida, Amerjit Ghag (husband Larry Heim) of Honolulu, and Sukhjit Ghag of San Francisco, as well as several grandchildren and sisters.
A memorial service will be Thursday, Oct. 15, at 11 a.m. at Ullrey Memorial Chapel, 817 Almond St, Yuba City.