Fund established in librarian's memory

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At Citizens Library in Washington, Pa., where Rama Karamcheti worked as a reference librarian, she was known for her passion for genealogy and local history.

During her 14 years there, she compiled and indexed items of regional interest that included everything from local newspaper articles about Pennsylvania soldiers in the Iraq War to places and people in Washington County that made their way into local publications.

"I worked with Rama, and she seemed to make an impact on everyone who met her," assistant library director Melinda Tanner of Washington said.

For the last seven years of her life, Mrs. Karamcheti battled multiple myeloma. She died Oct. 2 in her East Washington home at the age of 65.

To keep her memory alive and to support the genealogy and reference departments at the library she loved, her family has established the Rama Karamcheti Fund for the Citizens Library, a $30,000 bequest administered by the Washington County Community Foundation. 

"This fund is a credit to my mother," said her son, Adi Karamcheti. "She loved Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania and made herself a part of the area."

Mrs. Karamcheti was born Feb. 22, 1948, in her family home in Vizianagaram, India. Her father was a physician and career officer in the army of India and a veteran of World War II. Her mother was a homemaker. Their children were educated in private schools across northern India.

She married Anand Karamcheti, a urologist, in 1969, and the couple and their son, Adi, emigrated to the United States in 1972. They lived in New Jersey and New York City, where their second son, Deepak, was born. In 1975, the family moved to Pittsburgh.

"While living in Pittsburgh, where Dad was in residency at Montefiore Hospital, an optometrist from Squirrel Hill, David Horowitz, took our family under his wing," said Adi Karamcheti, who lives on Mount Washington and works as a revenue management analyst for FedEx. "Through the grapevine, Dad heard that a urologist from Washington had passed away, and he wanted to take the opportunity to fill the void. However, when Dad wasn’t able to get money to open a practice, Dr. Horowitz lent him the bulk of what was required to get started."

He recalled that his mother "often said that only in America would a Jewish American family take an Indian immigrant family under their wing. To her, that was what set America apart from everywhere else in the world."

The Karamcheti family moved to Washington in 1977, and shortly afterward Mrs. Karamcheti enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Library Science, where she earned a master's degree in 1982. In addition to Citizens Library, she had worked as head of the reference department at Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling, W.Va., and at the Chartiers-Houston Community Library.

On Feb. 22, Mrs. Karamcheti’s birthday, a memorial celebration and open house was held at Citizens Library, attended by Mrs. Karamcheti’s husband, her two sons, grandchildren and sister, Aruna Vedula from Boston, Mass. The Rama Karamcheti Fund was announced and a plaque in her honor was unveiled in the reference room.

Diane Ambrose, executive director of the library, spoke about Mrs. Karamcheti’s many years at the library and some of the things her staff most remembers about her. Mrs. Karamcheti's family talked about her passion for genealogy and local history.

On its website, the Washington County Community Foundation said this about Mrs. Karamcheti:

"Rama was many things: a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend and colleague. Above all, she was a general’s daughter with a passion for reading and learning, a firm believer in the transformative power of libraries, books and education. It is the hope of her family that active contributions to this fund will help to support a place and a cause that was most special to her, supporting Citizens Library."

Adi Karamcheti said, "Each year on her birthday, we’d like to have a memorial celebration at the library to honor her memory and raise awareness and money for the fund."


Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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