Dr. Nagavara Koshy Samuel of Columbia, Maryland was born to Skariah Koshy and Mariamma Geevarghese in Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India on October 2, 1925. He was one of six children with three brothers, George, Mathew, and Skariah and two sisters, Aleyamma and Annamma.
Although he was born into a Marthomite Syrian Christian family, the defining moment in Dr. Samuel’s life came when an uncle introduced him to the Seventh-day Adventist church and encouraged him to attend the Kottarakkara Seventh-day Adventist Secondary School. He shared his passion for the Adventist faith with his younger sister, Aleyamma, and subsidized their parallel educational goals by working as a literature evangelist for the Review and Herald Publishing Association. Through his hard work, he earned scholarships for both of them to Spicer Missionary College. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Religious Education from the college in 1954.
Dr. Samuel married Ammini Alexander on July 14, 1955 in a joint ceremony with his sister, Aleyamma, and her husband-to-be, C.K. John. Their first child, Sally, was born in 1956, followed by Molly in 1958, and Lally in 1963.
In pursuit of his desire for further education and a better life for his young family, Dr. Samuel traveled to the United States in 1963 to attend Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan while continuing his work as a literature evangelist. His wife and three daughters joined him in Michigan in 1964, and the family moved later that year to Takoma Park, Maryland where they welcomed a fourth daughter, Jolly, in 1965. He returned to Andrews University for a short time to complete his master’s degree in 1967, then finished his education at Catholic University, earning a PhD in Education Administration in 1971 (coincidentally, Aleyamma, obtained her own PhD on the same day!). Shortly thereafter, he began working as a professor at the University of the District of Columbia, teaching graduate students in Education Administration. The family celebrated the arrival of their fifth daughter, Jennifer, in 1974.
Never forgetting the seminal impact of the Adventist educational system in his own life, Dr. Samuel ensured that his own children received the same education.
Dr. Samuel served his church and community long and well, with a particular passion for preserving his Indian heritage and developing a strong Indian community in the Washington, D.C. area. He served as an elder at the Takoma Park and Spencerville Seventh-day Adventist churches and on the board of the John Nevins Andrews School. He enjoyed politics and participating in Democratic Party events. He served in leadership roles in various Southern Asian and Kerala cultural associations. In the late 1980s, he tirelessly pursued his goal of establishing a stand-alone Adventist church for members of the Southern Asian community to worship and co-founded the Southern Asian Seventh-day Adventist Church. The church had its first service in January 1988 and continues to thrive today.
Dr. Samuel taught at the University of the District of Columbia until his retirement in 1995. He then focused on real estate investments and remained committed to his community. He and Ammini were devoted to their children and grandchildren until she passed away after almost 59 years of marriage in June, 2014. Dr. Samuel enjoyed another two years with family and friends until he died on Thursday, June 2, 2016, after suffering a stroke. He is survived by his sister, Aleyamma John, and his daughters Sally (Paul Schwab) of Lutherville, Maryland, Molly of Orefield, Pennsylvania, Lally of Stamford, Connecticut, Jolly (Greg Burks) of Columbia, Maryland, and Jennifer (Nick Koshuta) of Flagstaff, Arizona, and his nine grandchildren, Kristin, Andrew, Michael, Christy, Joey, Marissa, David, Luke, and Zac.
He instilled in his family his love of God and strong work ethic. He will be missed, but not forgotten.