College mourns passing of Professor Emeritus John Alphonso Karkala

It is with sadness that the College shares the news of the passing of John Alphonso Karkala, who taught courses in English and world literature at New Paltz for more than two decades.

Karkala was born in 1923 in South Kanara, India. He studied comparative and world literature at London University and Columbia University, and earned his Ph. D in 1964. Prior to completing his studies, Karkala also served for seven years in the Indian Foreign Service at outposts in London, Geneva and New York.

After earning his doctorate degree, Karkala taught courses in what were then called the “Oriental Humanities” at Columbia and at City College, before joining the faculty at SUNY New Paltz.

At the College, Karkala taught courses in mythology and fable, the great books of Asian cultures, Composition and Shakespeare. He published prolifically during his scholarly career, with a particular focus on literature published in English by Indian authors. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1988.

An obituary published on Jan. 8, 2017 describes Karkala as “a remarkable man who was loved and admired by all who met and knew him.”

It continues: “He was a critical thinker with an ingenious mind. His kindness and admiration for all those around him, as well as his deep understanding of life itself, made him memorable for his family, friends, students and colleagues. His spirit will live on in his work and all who knew him.”

Karkala died peacefully on Dec. 18, 2016, surrounded by his wife Leena and his children Siita, Krishna and Uma.