Memories of J. Vasanthan, a versatile personality, flooded the American College here on Friday when his friends, colleagues and students recalled their association with the late professor at a memorial meeting. Prof. Vasanthan, a fountain from which there was a perennial flow of creativity in different forms, passed away at a city hospital on Tuesday.
Prof. Vasanthan, JV for his admirers, wore different hats to perfection – as a teacher, writer, theatre personality, cartoonist, speaker and friend, even for his children. D. Samuel Lawrence, former Vice-Principal, American College, described his former colleague as a non-conformist who lived in a world of his own that was removed from the ordinary, mundane and materialistic world.
Though he had lucrative offers from all over the world, he chose to remain here as “he loved Madurai, loved teaching, loved the American College and loved life.”
Recalling the love and affection JV had for his students, Dr. Lawrence said that the students “loved, admired and adored him.” “Vasanthan never had an inflated ego or exaggerated self-importance.”
The Head of Department of Visual Communication, Prabhakaran, recalled how JV inspired even those who were not his direct students. N. Elango, Head, Department of English, hailed JV as the “father of the Curtain Club” that staged plays of Shakespeare and modern writers like J. B. Priestley and Agatha Christie. P. Nedumaran, former Head, of Department of English, referred to JV as a great human being who possessed equanimity of mind.
Born in Kovilpatti, Prof. Vasanthan, who passed away at the age of 77, came to study Intermediate in the American College in 1951 at the age of 15, where he also continued his graduate studies.
Later, he joined the Madras Christian College to begin a glorious teaching career as a Tutor of English. His illustrious students included Prakash Karat, general secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist).
His love for Madurai brought him back to the American College, where he retired as Professor.