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Thursday, 16 November 2006
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Jaiboy Joseph
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He was a "walking encyclopedia" said someone who knew Jaiboy Joseph well. Others commented on his basic goodness, his gentle manner and his essential decency.

Jaiboy Joseph - who many of us knew as Jaiboychayen - passed away on April after a brief illness at the age of 84. The news of his death came as a shock to many who knew him since he was in generally good health despite his age. Just weeks prior to his death, he visited Kerala with his wife, Omanakochamma - on an extended tour during which they both visited numerous relatives. His sister, Anna Varkey, described that visit to Kerala, in retrospect, as a "last hurrah". During the latter part of 2008, they had visited the US and attended the wedding of Rohan Joseph's (Bava) son, Anish. During that visit they spent a couple of days with Rana & Mini in Northern Virginia.

There were numerous comments made in various notes of condolence as well as memories of Jaiboychayen and the common thread had to do with comments about his basic decency, his erudition, his sense of humor and his gentle manner. A profile of him in the Hindu described him aptly as "the gentle man par excellence, well shod, silvery hair swept back from a broad brow, ready to break into laughter at a joke." It is probably how many of us will remember him.

He came from an illustrious background - the son of Pothan Joseph, considered by many to be the doyen of Indian journalists. His mother, Anna, was from the Kandathil family. She was the daughter of a former Thiruvalla Municipal Council's chairman KM Mammen Mappilai. Given his father's prominence as a journalist, it is not surprising that he chose to pursue journalism and after graduating from Loyola College, he took a position as sub-editor of the Hindu. His career thereafter spanned various facets of journalism/communication with positions as editor of "The Liberator", and then senior positions with Reuters and the US Information Service (USIS) and finally as Public Relations Officer with Caltex in Bombay where he continued until his retirement. Subsequent to his retirement he and Omanakochamma moved to Madras where he continued his involvement in journalism and also wrote a book "Glimpses of Journalism".

He was well-read and listening to him articulate his views on any number of subjects was a rewarding experience. Despite his vast knowledge what came across at the same time was his essential humility and willingness to learn. He never sought to thrust his opinion on anyone - but sought instead to "persuade as opposed to coerce", as Rebecca Chandy, a friend of his, put it.

He leaves behind his wife Omanakochamma and two daughters, Chimu and Rekha, grand-daughters Anna and Anisha, and sisters Anna (Kuki) and Sarasu.

He will be missed by all those who knew him.

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