You know how sometimes your quietest friends can turn out to be your best friends?
That’s how it was with the late Helen Raminger Abichandani ’54 and her alma mater, Wagner College.
For many years, while the Bronx native lived in California, she did not maintain an active connection to the campus where she had studied to become a teacher. But she never forgot the College or her gratitude to her parents for supporting her Wagner education.
As many as five students per year will benefit from the William and Erna Raminger Scholarship Fund.
Abichandani moved to California for the sunny weather, says Joni Magee, who knew her late in her life while serving as her case manager at Siegel & Associates. Tall, striking, and elegant, she was also funny, outspoken, and talkative, Magee recalls.
She taught elementary school. “Her former students kept up with her for years,” Magee says. “She was funny, and I’m sure she made her classes fun.”
She married Krishin Abichandani, an aeronautical engineer who immigrated to the United States from India. They lived in the Hollywood Hills in a striking Mid-Century Modern home.
Helen began reconnecting with Wagner College in 1999, attending her first class reunion. Krishin died shortly after that visit, and Helen continued to enjoy Wagner events, even an alumni cruise on the Queen Mary II.
Former alumni director Gail Kelley ’97 and President Guarasci also visited her in Los Angeles, and she spoke with them about her desire to use her estate to boost her favorite cause, education, at Wagner College.
Helen Abichandani passed away on February 25, 2013, one day short of her 80th birthday. Her Hollywood Hills friends organized her memorial service at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Studio City. “She was an incredibly wonderful and generous soul,” says her former neighbor, Shane Nguyen. “I miss her dearly.”
Her estate plans included an $868,000 gift to Wagner College to establish an endowed scholarship in memory of her parents, William and Erna Raminger. Polish immigrants of German descent, they worked hard to make sure their only child received the gift of education. Neither of them graduated from high school, but William built a successful auto parts business in the Bronx, and even held a patent on an antiglare headlight.
Inspired by her parents, Helen Abichandani is passing along the gift of education to future Wagner students. As many as five students per year will benefit from the William and Erna Raminger Scholarship Fund.