Obituary of Rayudu Vrudhula
Rayudu S. Vrudhula of Austin, Texas passed peacefully of natural causes on Monday, February 1, 2021 at home, surrounded by his family, prayers and music. He was 87.
Rayudu is survived by his sons, Sanjay and Rajiv Vrudhula; his daughter, Kalpana Peddibhotla; his daughters-in-law Michelle Vrudhula and Marie-Caroline Marx; his son-in-law Ram Peddibhotla; and grandchildren Leela Marx Vrudhula, Sandesh Peddibhotla, Rakesh Peddibhotla, Nikhil Vrudhula, Krishna Vrudhula, Rani Vrudhula, Cassidy Macias; grand-son-in-law Jason Macias; and numerous nieces and nephews around the world. His beloved wife, Jaya, preceded him in death, a year before their 60th wedding anniversary.
Rayudu, also known as “Ray” in his adopted land, was a pioneer and one of the foundational architects of the Indian American community in the U.S. He was an inspiring leader to the many communities and institutions of which he was a part, with a deep appreciation of Indian culture and values, and a love that embraced all without regard to race or origin.
Rayudu was born on August 28, 1933 in Bobbili, Andhra Pradesh, India to Bala Kameswara Sarma and Suramma. He was one of six brothers and two sisters. After finishing his undergraduate degree from Mrs. A.V.N. College in Andhra Pradesh, he moved to Mumbai where he graduated from Bombay University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Master’s Degree in Chemistry.
He married Jaya Lakshmi Nookala on February 6, 1960. Their eldest son, Sanjay was born in Chennai in 1963. Two months later, he embarked on his journey to the U.S. with his first stop at the University of Wyoming, and ultimately graduating with an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. His wife and son joined him in 1965. His daughter, Kalpana, was born while he was at UCLA and two years later, their son, Rajiv was born in New Jersey.
Rayudu had a long and successful career working for IBM as a Senior Marketing Forecaster, working on many successful products during the 1970s to 80’s.
He embraced America’s democracy and served as an election commissioner in California and Texas from the 1990s to 2000’s. Rayudu served on the Austin Planning Commission during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s as Austin began its transition to become one of the leading tech hubs that it is today.
Perhaps though his greatest contributions came from his service in building institutions and creating “community” for Indians in America. Rayudu, his brother, Kasi Sastry, and brother-in-law Rao Palanki, among others, were instrumental in the founding of the Telugu Literary Cultural Association (TLCA), which laid the foundation for the Telugu Association of North America (TANA). He and his wife, Jaya, led and participated in various Telugu associations, including the Bay Area Telugu Association (BATA), Telugu Cultural Association of Austin, and Texas Telugu Sahitya Sadassu.
Through their commitment to these cultural groups, Rayudu and Jaya brought numerous musicians and dancers to share their craft with the local Indian communities and help provide greater appreciation of Indian culture to the broader community. Luminaries such as Ravi Shankar, Ghantasala, Nageswara Rao, and Vanisri were among those that Rayudu and his friends hosted and helped bring to the US. Being a singer himself, Rayudu often led cultural programs, bhajans, parties with his rich and sonorous voice. He even sang on a Telugu radio station last year at the age of 86.
He was actively involved in the Federation of Indo-Americans (FIA), which brought the first India Day Parade to Fremont, California. Through his leadership, BATA became an active participant in this program, which today attracts thousands of people, dignitaries, celebrities, local politicians, and community leaders.
Rayudu was also one of the seven founding members of The Indus Entrepreneurs (“TiE”) in 1992, which is now one of the largest global organizations fostering entrepreneurship. Rayudu in fact came up with the shortened name “TiE”, which was a simple description of the bond between Indian subcontinent and the US. Rayudu’s involvement with TiE was an extension of everything he believed in - sharing and guiding others so they may succeed and reach their dreams.
Rayudu and Jaya built community wherever they went. They formed a “chai club” with friends in California, a teen patti circle from coast to coast, and a poetry group; they hosted parties, celebrations, and were regulars at community and family events. With the isolation of COVID, he participated virtually in a group called ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Oranges). They traded health tips, brought on guest speakers, and inspired one another to live life to its fullest.
Rayudu’s friends and family describe his larger than life personality, his wit and affection, and his ability to make all around him burst into laughter. He will be missed by all who knew him.