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Jagdish Raj Chawla

March 27, 1932 ~ June 30, 2022 (age 90)


Jagdish R. “Jack” Chawla, 90, of New Orleans, LA, passed away on June 30, 2022 in New Orleans, LA after a ten-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Jack was born in Bannu, North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), India in March of 1932. While in his teens, during the fight for Indian Independence and Partition, his family fled war and religious persecution and relocated to Lucknow, India and eventually settled in Nagpur, India.

With the influx of displaced refugees, Jack felt his future was elsewhere and moved to Bombay (now Mumbai), India to attend and later graduate from the Indian Naval Marine College at Colaba.

Following his service in the Indian Navy from 1960-1964, Jack became an Indian Merchant Seaman with Scindia Shipping Company. Afterwards, he joined Jayanti Shipping Company Limited as First Engineer which took him to ports of call ranging from Buenos Aires, Rotterdam, Oslo, New Orleans and Tokyo. As a Merchant Seaman, Jack had the opportunity to experience the white nights of almost 24 hours of sunlight in Norway, be in the audience of the Pope in Vatican City, run a tender for the Shah of Iran, and attend the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Jack was a member of the Indian Naval Field Hockey Team that won numerous tournament titles in Australia and New Zealand.

On one of his visits to the U.S., he met his future wife, Mary Dawes, to whom he was married for over 55 years, until his death. Jack and Mary would marry in Bombay (Mumbai) and start their lives together in 1966 in New Orleans when Jack took a variety of marine-related jobs with American Marine Corporation and Todd Shipyards.

In 1967, Jack decided to make his own future and would never work for an employer again. With Mary’s support he became the dealer at the Esso (later Exxon) service station outside the gates of Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park.  His nephew Surinder “Sonny” Arora who immigrated to the States worked alongside him. 

Jack expanded his gas station dealership to the Shell Station at the corner of Carrollton and Earhart and other Shell Stations throughout the Greater New Orleans area winning many dealer awards from Shell. Jack became a “key dealer” and began to wholesale oil and other service station-related products to gas stations throughout New Orleans.  

In 1970, Jack and Mary adopted their then three-year old son, Lee, from India. Jack was intent on sharing the success of America with his family and helped three additional nephews, Tony, Bobby and Roger emigrate from India to New Orleans. In 1976 Jack proudly became a U.S. Citizen.

Over the years Jack had a number of other business projects ranging from Crown Construction Company to C & E Enterprises which would become one of the largest auto parts wholesalers in the Greater New Orleans Area. He expanded into retail with Louisiana Auto Parts and eventually transitioned away from the auto supply business. His next endeavor was Jack’s Beverages, a chain of beverage and liquor stores with as many as 27 locations.

Along with his family, he developed a wholesale convenience store supply business on the Westbank called stockUP which supplied over 100 locations from LaPlace to Slidell.

Jack embraced his life as an immigrant with the goal of passing his successes on to as many people who were willing to work hard. For more than 50 years Jack provided a model for his family and generously assisted many managers to positions of business ownership, often helping to finance their dreams. His goal was never wealth but was always to share his success with those who were willing to work hard. 

In his spare time, Jack was an avid tennis player at the Rivercenter Tennis Club and dedicated himself to improving his golf game. He enjoyed travel, meeting new friends and simply making people feel good about themselves. The company of friends and family meant the world to him. He will be missed by many.

He was predeceased by his parents Tara Chand and Nihali (Nakra) Chawla, his siblings Hemraj Chawla (Shusheel); Shakuntala Arora (Mohan Lal); Shiv Dev Chawla (Draupati); Kalavati Arora (Lachman Das); Prem Sagar Chawla (Kamlesh).  

He is survived by his devoted wife of 55 years Mary Dawes Chawla, his son Lee Chawla, his daughter-in-law, Kristen Calonico Chawla and the lights of his life, his grandchildren, James “Jack” Chawla, Owen Chawla and Anne Chawla.

He is also survived by his nephews and niece whom he helped settle in America. They are Surinder “Sonny” Arora (Beenu); Naresh “Tony” Chawla (Joyce); Rakesh “Bobby” Chawla (Kiran); Rajesh “Roger” Chawla (Sarita); Sujata Arora (Rajinder) and many grandnephews and grandnieces who he adored and whose many successes he proudly witnessed. Many additional devoted nieces and nephews survive him in India.

The family would like to thank all of those who provided extra care during the past year. This includes, The Sister Servants of Mary, Lakeside Hospice and his in-home care providers led by Xiomara “Meme” Canizales in addition to a host of family and friends who visited him regularly.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Funeral Service at 1:30 PM on Saturday, July 9, 2022 in the J. Garic Schoen Chapel of Jacob Schoen & Son, 3827 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70119. Visitation will begin at 11:30 AM. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to The Sister Servants of Mary, 5001 Perlita St., New Orleans, LA 70122 – (504) 282 5549 or a charitable organization of your choice.

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July 9, 2022

11:30 AM to 1:30 PM
Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home
3827 Canal Street
New Orleans, LA 70119

Funeral Service
July 9, 2022

1:30 PM
Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home
3827 Canal Street
New Orleans, LA 70119

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