An Inspiring Life in the Amazing Grace of God: A Brief Biography of Dr. C. C. Abraham

Dr. C. C. Abraham is an Indian agricultural scientist and former Dean of the College of Horticulture and College of Forestry of the Kerala Agricultural University. This post published on his 87th birthday on 27th January 2023 documents his remarkable life and career, offering an insight into the power of dedication, arduous work, and service.         

Introduction

Dr. C.C. Abraham’s Personal and Professional Life

Early Years

Early Education

Professional Life and Higher Studies

Post Retirement Activities

Malankara Orthodox Church

Family History Book and Website

Family

Thank You

Pictures

Chathoth Extended Family Tree

About the Author

Introduction

I am pleased to write and publish this post to coincide with the 87th birthday of my dad Dr. C.C. Abraham on the 27th of January 2023.

I am sure that this book will be an interesting read for everyone who has known Dr. C.C. Abraham as a teacher, mentor, scientist, colleague, family member, church elder, friend or neighbour. The life of Dr. Abraham is an example of how determination and a positive outlook can help anyone to achieve success. He hopes that the readers of his biography can be inspired to work hard and remain optimistic, and he sends his best wishes for their future.

I like to reminisce about some personal stories about my dad and his influence on me. When my father returned from his research in the West Indies, Sudan, and England in 1979, he brought three books with him along with some other things like a tape recorder and a digital watch. What I liked most were the books and they were with me for a long time. One of the books, Six Weeks to Words of Power by Wilfred Funk, was the starting point of my curiosity about powerful words. I learned all of those words in a matter of one or two years and became quite well ahead of most of my classmates in English vocabulary. I have continued the habit of learning novel words ever since. The other two books were the famous books, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and Self Creation by George Weinberg. Although I did go through them page by page, I did not learn a lot to put them into practice then, but they would have certainly helped later on to a limited extent.

When I was a student of engineering, one of my favourite places was the library at the Kerala Agricultural University where my dad was a professor at the time. Since the Agricultural Engineering faculty was working from that building in those days, there were several engineering books available there. I used to enjoy spending a lot of time on some of those books although they were not directly relevant to my examinations. I would occasionally run into some of my dad’s students. I remember a particularly startling remark a Ph.D. student made to me:“ Your dad is like God to me.” Later I understood that many of his students shared a similar level of respect that was beyond normal student-teacher relationships. He would go over and above the academic requirements and touch them in special ways.

In honour of Dr. Abraham’s tireless effort in constructing the family tree, I tabulated the family tree information from the History Book into an Excel and created look-up charts that are now available to extended family members on request.

Alex Abraham

27th January 2023

Dr. C.C. Abraham’s Personal and Professional Life

C. C. Abraham is an 86-year-old Indian agricultural scientist, former professor, and public servant whose life is dedicated to the service of his country, family, and church.

Early Years

Born in the village of Vallamkulam in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala (then Alleppey District) on 27th January 1937, he was named after his granduncle Rev. T.I. Abraham, the vicar of C.S.I. Christ Church Thiruvananthapuram from 1903 to 1931, was. His former students and colleagues remember him as a highly inspiring, supportive, and even life-changing guru.

Abraham’s father, C.I. Chandy, respectfully remembered as Chandy Sir by his former students and villagers was an illustrious teacher (Malayalam language Vidwan) and headmaster in several Travancore and Kerala state government schools during the first half of the twentieth century until retirement from Keezhvayipur school in 1957. After his retirement, C.I. Chandy was active as the headmaster of the Malankara Orthodox Sunday Church School close to Vallamkulam home until the late 1970s.

T.P. Aleyamma, the mother of Abraham, was renowned for her English teaching skills. She was a boarding student at Nicholson residential school near Thiruvalla, having been instructed by famous English teachers, probably Miss P. Brooke Smith or others. The author remembers her quoting the verbatim admonition ‘regular in your irregularity’ (about a habitually late student), and ‘Sir Eyre Coote, the hero of Wandiwash’ while retelling the story of the British victory over the French at Vandavashi. Later, she went on to St. Roch’s teachers’ training school in Thiruvananthapuram, again as a boarder. Abraham had a brother who passed away as a child; the only adult sibling was the late Mrs. Thankamma Thomas who passed away in 2013.

Early Education

Abraham received his primary education from the local schools in Kallooppara and Vallamkulam and completed high school in St. John’s Eraviperoor. After finishing Intermediate Course at Thiruvalla Mar Thoma College with High First Class, he went on to attend the Agricultural University in Hebbal, Bangalore where he graduated with University First Rank in 1957 in agricultural sciences.

Abraham has a deep-rooted history of resilience and determination, illustrated by his childhood commitment to education. There was no bridge across the Manimala River near his home those days. He used to cross the Manimala River at the Prayatt ferry north of Eraviperoor and walk several miles daily with his mother, who was a teacher at his elementary school in Kallooppara, even during the monsoon floods. He remembers crossing it in a ferry expertly paddled by someone named Kuttappan.

Professional Life and Higher Studies

Abraham has had a distinguished 40-year career in government service. He began in 1957 as an Agricultural Officer under the Kerala Agricultural Department. Later in 1972, he joined the newly formed Kerala Agricultural University and has since held numerous roles including Professor and Head of the Department of Entomology, Dean of the College of Forestry, Dean of the College of Horticulture, Associate Director of Research, and Managing Editor of the Agricultural Research Journal of Kerala. He also served on the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Scientific Panel for Entomology and as a member of National Review teams for Rice, Cashew, Oil Palm and Pesticide Residues. He is a distinguished Fellow of the Entomological Society of India (FESI).

He did his master’s degree in Agricultural Entomology at the Govt Agricultural College, Vellayani, Thiruvananthapuram securing First Rank. In 1971, Abraham earned his Ph.D. in Entomology with a gold medal for proficiency from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi.

During his time in government service, he had the opportunity to visit and collaborate with researchers from the world-renowned Rothamsted Agricultural Research Centre, Harpenden, England. He conducted studies on the aquatic weed control project in the river Nile in Khartoum, Sudan. He completed Advanced Training on the Biological Control of Weeds at the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control, Trinidad.

Abraham has achieved significant success in his academic career; he has authored five books, published 154 research papers and articles, and mentored numerous Ph.D. students in their research. Abraham has chaired sessions at several International and National conferences, allowing him to stay up to date with the latest developments in his field while networking with peers and colleagues.

Post Retirement Activities

Upon his retirement in 1997 as the Dean of the College of Horticulture at the Kerala Agricultural University, Abraham continued to make a lasting impact on the agricultural scientific community in India. He served as an advisor to the Government of India and the ICAR on various agrarian research initiatives.

Malankara Orthodox Church

Abraham has had a long and blessed engagement in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Christian church outreach and teaching ministries. He has published over twenty devotional and spiritual articles and delivered over 140 biblical messages in churches, religious gatherings, and home prayer meetings. In addition, he has also published more than thirty devotional and spiritual articles in various ecumenical periodicals. He served on the Editorial Committee of Edavaka Pathrika, a devotional magazine, for an extended period.

Dr. Abraham is immensely grateful for the kindness of the clergy of the St. Ignatius Church in Thrissur, Kerala, India, which has been a great support to him in his spiritual journey. He owes a great debt of gratitude to Rev. Fr. Thomas Myalil, Vicar, who introduced him to the spiritual realm through an assignment on a Biblical message during Holy Week many years ago, and for providing ongoing encouragement. He is also thankful to Rev. Fr. C. S. Thomas, Vicar, now Very Rev. Bar Sleebi Remban, for the various assignments that opened up vistas in Biblical studies and spiritual growth.

Family History Book and Website

Before his passing in 2004, C.I. Thomas, Abraham’s uncle, planted the idea of creating a Chathoth Vallamkulam Family History Book. Abraham researched, compiled, printed and circulated the book in 2012, detailing the family’s beginnings, his memories of life in Vallamkulam village, and a complete family tree. Many family members supported him during the research, of whom his cousin, the late C.I. Jacob, played a key role.

The history book became a launching pad for the idea of a family website. Initially, the idea of a website came as a result of discussions between several family members, Alex George, Jossy Abraham, Reji Mathew, Sheela Mathew C.T. Abraham and George Thomas. It was Alex George who brought it to life with the support of all the others in the planning and execution in a short period of forty-five days. The author, Alex Abraham, set up a modest WordPress website and has been maintaining it ever since its inception.

Abraham wishes to congratulate Alex George for his tireless work in making the website chathothvallamkulamfamily.com a reality. Alex organized an official launch of the website on the 25th of April 2015. It was attended by Abraham and Alex and their spouses. Three metropolitans of the Malankara Orthodox Church sent their felicitations on the occasion of the inauguration.

The website helps the family members to learn more about the family history. One of the interesting stories that C.C. Abraham has shared in his book is the big flood of 1962 when he and his family had to take refuge in the attic of his ancestral home. Although Vallamkulam is habitually waterlogged during monsoons, subsequent floods have not topped the level reached in 1962.

Family

Jolly and Abraham have been married for 61 years and have been an incredible source of strength to one another throughout that time. Despite his absences for studies and work, Jolly managed to take care of the family while continuing to work as a High School Teacher. She has been a true blessing to him, providing him with the strength and courage to get through their journey of life together and it is still going strong.

As their son, the author wants to congratulate his parents on passing the momentous occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary on 5th June 2021. Interestingly to note, the bridegroom’s party had to take a 15-minute walk from their family home to the Church for the wedding, which highlights the vast differences between the past and present times. Truly, it is a rare blessing from God to accomplish this milestone. To think of their small beginning as very young newlyweds, they have accomplished so much in their educational and career paths, and have done a wonderful job of raising two children. They even showed a remarkable tribute to their parents, bringing them from native Vallamkulam to their Thrissur home and taking care of them for over a decade until they both passed away.

As Christians, we thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed on them, and we pray that He will continue to lead them, so that they may always enjoy good health and happiness in all their pursuits as they live independently. Due to limited mobility, they now spend a great deal of their time praying and keeping in touch with relatives and friends from home.

Abraham is a proud member of an ever-growing family. His two sons, Alex Abraham and Abi Abraham have established their own lives and families in two different countries.

Alex Abraham, the author, is married to Sunita. They have two children, Shilpa and Sanjay, who are married to Calvin and Katrina, and reside in Canada. Shilpa and Calvin have a baby girl, Naomi. Abi Abraham and his wife, Lovely, are living in Dubai with their son Manu.

Thank You

Dr. C.C. Abraham, on his 87th birthday, looks back on his life and career with immense gratitude and delight. He is thankful for the chance to serve in the Kerala Agricultural University and the Kerala Agricultural Department. He expresses his appreciation to all his former colleagues, teachers, and superior officers, some of whom have already passed away, and to all of his students and well-wishers, some of whom still work in India and overseas.

After his retirement, he was privileged to help the Malankara Orthodox Church with its outreach programs and is grateful for the opportunities for teaching and serve.

He is particularly grateful for the love and support of his extended family and friends throughout his life. Some of the names are mentioned below. He expresses his deepest gratitude to all those individuals and their families for the unwavering support, love, and fellowship they have given him throughout his life, a truly priceless gift.

Abraham has maintained strong connections with several families, including those of his mother (Thottackatt family), his wife’s late brother K.A. Jacob (Edathumpadikal), his sister Thankamma Thomas (Thamaravelil), his wife’s sisters Jaya John (Mannakuzhiyil) and Omana Mathew (Kulathakkal), and ancestral families (Ayroor Thazhamon Pakalomattam and Thiruvalla Konkara).

Dr. Abraham had a very strong bond with his elder sister, Thankamma. They visited each other annually and had a unique connection. Abraham remembers her annual Christmas cards and frequent letters before emails became popular. He and Thankamma had a very close relationship, where they shared their innermost feelings and emotions. Abraham will always be grateful for the immense love and support of his sister and her husband.

Abraham owes a great deal of his professional success to two late Chathoth family members, Pennamma Kochamma (M.C. Mariamma, wife of his uncle C.I. Abraham) and Kunjoppan (C.I. Thomas, his uncle) and he is deeply grateful to them. Abraham was welcomed into the family of Pennamma Kochamma between 1954 and 1957, where he was cared for with the same maternal love and devotion. Abraham’s career in the agricultural field began when Kunjoppan, lovingly guided and helped to secure admission to a basic degree course in Agriculture from Bengaluru. He was accepted and began his studies in 1954.

The passing away of Abraham’s brother C.C. Georgekutty at the age of six had a deep impact on his parents, particularly his father C.I. Chandy, who would remember the tragedy every year by sending prayer requests to his favourite Paliakara St. George Orthodox Church in Thiruvalla, the last time on his deathbed while suffering from a stroke. After the loss of Georgekutty, Abraham’s cousin C.I. Jacob became like a brother to him, and the two stayed together for their schooling at Vallamkulam, and later attended agricultural sciences in Bengaluru together. Abraham’s mother looked after them both during their time in Vallamkulam, while Jacob’s mother took care of them while they were in Bengaluru. Throughout their lives, they remained so close that it was as if they were brothers, sharing mutual commitments to their families and matters of importance. Abraham was deeply saddened by the passing of Jacob in 2018. He thanks Jacob’s surviving family for their love and support.

On 14th January 2014, Abraham had a mishap while at home when he fell from a ladder. This incident became more severe due to his chronic susceptibility to allergens, which complicated otherwise minor bronchial issues and eventually led to his being hospitalized in the ICU due to the development of Septicemia.

Abraham is thankful for several friends and relatives who helped him and his family during the period of hospitalization and recovery. When he was admitted to the Jubilee Mission Medical College, Thrissur, Abraham’s health quickly declined. Abi was by his father’s side throughout his hospital stay, while his wife’s nephew, Mathew Simon, otherwise known as Nebu, aided Abi like a brother. With Nebu’s help, Abraham was successfully transferred to Amala Hospital and the renowned nephrologist Dr. Jayant Thomas Mathew, a relative of Nebu’s, attended to him, thus saving his life. Dr. Alexander Thomas, his nephew, was an immense help to Abraham, visiting the hospital and providing uplifting words, while also speaking with the doctors who were in charge of his care, especially the orthopedic expert Dr. Wilson Iype. Since the 1970s, when Dr. Sarah T. George (Thottackatt) joined Kerala Agricultural University as a student, her bond with Abraham’s family has been strong. She and her husband Dr. Babu organized Abraham’s transportation to the hospital and provided care afterwards. Julie, Abi’s sister-in-law, and Jolly (Konkara) and Shyam Valayil were regular guests, supplying beneficial assistance as well. Jolly’s mother, who hailed from the Konkara family, was very close to Abraham and his family before her death.

Valsamma (Thazhamon) and Babychen have been close to the Abrahams since the early 1980s when they lived near their Mannuthy home and raised their family. They continue to keep the relations after they moved to Chengannur.

K.M. Mathew, former headmaster of MGM High School, Thiruvalla, and a cousin to Thankamma Thomas, has been a close friend and guide to the Abrahams. Reena Mathew, his daughter, formed a connection with them during her student life at Kerala Agricultural University in the 1970s, and their families have kept this relationship intact ever since.

Former colleagues and neighbours C.A. Mathew, Dr. T.V. Viswanathan and Prof. S. Balakrishnan have been sincere friends and have helped on numerous occasions. Dr. Abraham’s purchase of the plot of land in Mannuthy and the subsequent founding of India Nagar were both made possible thanks to the help of Prof. S Balakrishnan, a senior colleague and close friend. The professor was integral in aiding Dr. Abraham’s settlement of the area prior to the arrival of the new bypass road in the 1970s, and the two have remained close, offering each other support and advice throughout the years.

The Abrahams are also grateful to Babu, Johny and Basheer, who have supported them with their travels outside of their home. They are also thankful for the sincere support provided by Jos and Sobhana over many years from the 1960s to the 1990s in raising their children and taking care of their parents.

Sabu Jacob of Missions India Evangelistic Ministry and his family have a special place in Abraham’s mind. Missions India is a homegrown Christian group that serves two purposes: reviving the church and aiding the less fortunate in India. Since its founding in 1989, the organization has grown to include 560 missionaries in 17 states, working in 189 mission stations (Website http://www.missionsindia.org/).

Since 1990, Sabu Jacob has been part of Missions India. His work includes house visits, prayers, personal evangelism, and conventions. In 2007, they moved as a family to Thrissur, and shortly afterwards they were introduced to Abraham and his family. Sabu mentioned to the author that they highly value the love, support and prayers of Abraham. Abraham wants to thank Sabu Jacob and their family for their care and prayers.

Abraham wishes to highlight the professional and charitable work of his nephew Dr. Alexander Thomas and his wife Dr. Glory Alexander with pride. Both of them are highly accomplished medical doctors who have received multiple awards at the Karnataka State and Indian National levels for their work for the ASHA Foundation (Action, Service, Hope for Aids, https://ashaf.org/) and AHPI (Association of Healthcare Providers (India) https://www.ahpi.in/) that they founded.

Abraham’s exemplary career and lifetime achievements have been recognized several times by the Kerala Agricultural University. The Senior Scientists’ Association (SSA) of the University belatedly felicitated him on 20 December 2022 for Shatabhishekam (Sahasra Purna Chandrodaya or Sahasra Chandra Darshan) which is the celebration of a person’s 1000th full moon during his or her life as a special occasion. This milestone is reached before the 81st birthday of a person’s life; however, it is traditionally celebrated on the 84th birthday considering one thousand calendar months. He thanks the University SSA team that visited his home and presented him with the Shatabhishekam plaque and took the pictures, a few of which are included in this post.

Abraham considers it a blessing that he has the love and support of the families of his two sons Alex and Abi Abraham. Abraham has had very loving relations with Alex’s brothers-in-law, Bobby, Soman, and their families. He would also like to mention Abi’s brother-in-law Francis and his family in Thrissur.

The Abrahams are deeply appreciative of all their family members, friends, supporters, and well-wishers, and wish them all the best.

Pictures

Figure 1 With KAU SSA Staff on belated Shatabhishekam (84th birthday)
Figure 2 With wife Jolly Abraham on the occasion of receiving the Sathabisham (84th birthday) plaque on 20 December 2022
Figure 3 Inaugurating family website with wife Jolly Abraham on 25 April 2015
Figure 4 Alex George and Rany Alex inaugurating family website on 25th April 2015
Figure 5 Wedding photo of  C.C. Abraham and Jolly Abraham  5th June 1961


Figure 6 Dr. and Mrs. Abraham on his 81st birthday

Chathoth Extended Family Tree

These are now available for private circulation to family members.

Cousins are typically divided into “removed” categories. This indicates the number of generations separating the cousins. Cousins who are in the same generation are called “first cousins,” while cousins who are separated by one generation are called “once removed.” Cousins separated by two generations are “twice removed,” three generations are “three times removed,” and four generations are “four times removed.” This order of cousins is commonly understood as the number of generations between cousins.

After conducting research, the author created a cousin finder chart featuring six siblings: C.I. Chandy, C.I. Abraham, C.I. Mathew, C.I. Thomas, C.I. Aleyamamma, and C.I. George. A bar chart was also generated to provide a concise summary of the number of cousins per category.

About the Author

Alex Abraham, the eldest son of Dr. C. C. Abraham, began his career as an engineer at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala in 1985. After 11 years at the Centre, he took on assignments in India, the Middle East, and Africa for the next 14 years. In 2010, he and his family made Canada their home.

He oversees the chathothvallamkulamfamily.com website. If there are any errors, omissions or any comments about the post, you can reach out to him using the form on the page ‘Contact’.

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