Obituary: Om Sharma 1942 to Nov 1, 2019

By Ramona Sahni, Pittsburgh, PA

Editor’s Note: Ramona Sahni is a long-time family friend of the Sharmas.

Om was born in Haryana, India on February 28, 1942 into a traditional Haryanvi family. He was the oldest of four siblings. His schooling was in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India followed by a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Kashmir. This was followed years later by a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.

Steel captivated Om. His first job was with a Birla company in Jaipur, where he worked for five years. During this time, he married Krishna in a traditional wedding and they had their three children: Sheeno, Mona, and Vickrant.

After installing a brand-new machine from Germany for the Birla company, he got an offer he couldn’t refuse from Tata Iron and Steel Works in Jamshedpur. After working there for eight years, in 1978, he saw that he had reached the ceiling for his career advancement.

The Sharmas immigrated to the United States in 1978. He had interviews in San Francisco, Detroit and Pittsburgh. Like some of us, while he was flying over the hills, valleys and rivers of our beautiful city, he felt a sense of home, remembering his young days in Kashmir. So here he was, from one steel city in India to another steel city in the United States! The Sharmas have stayed here ever since.

He started with Pennsylvania Engineering and later worked at Westinghouse. In 1983, he took a leap of faith and went into the steel business for himself. He founded Sherman International dealing with various aspects of steel, doing business across the globe.

He enjoyed music, poetry and singing. He always had a joke to tell, especially Haryanvi jokes. He had a passion for life, living each day to its fullest. He and Krishna travelled extensively, often to my amazement and concern, when he admitted he was being eaten within by his disease. Such was his courage and fortitude!

Om was an adoring father, willing to spend the night standing in line to buy coveted concert tickets for his young daughters. He was a doting husband who loved to sing “jo tum ko ho pasand, wohi baat kahenge, tum din ko kaho raat to raat kahenge” to his wife Krishna of over 50 years!

When I asked one of his long-term friends what he liked most about Om, he said, it was his genuineness. This was attested to by a number of people who attended his funeral on November 3, and by the daily satsangs held at his home, culminating in the traditional pagadi rasam, held 13 days later, at the Indian Community Center in Carnegie, which he helped establish.

A man is remembered by the legacy he leaves behind. Om will be remembered not so much for building a successful business or for his charitable contributions to the Hindu Jain Temple, The Encyclopedia of Hinduism, or to institutions like our own Phipps Conservatory, but for the place he carved for himself in the hearts of friends like me.

Pandit Suresh Chandra Joshi from the Hindu Jain Temple conducted the Vedic cremation for Om Sharma on November 3, helping Vickrant, Mr. Sharma’s son, with the cremation rites at the Beinhauer Family Funeral Home, Pittsburgh. Om Sharma is survived by his wife, Krishnaa, all three of his siblings, three children and six very talented grandchildren. END 


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