Educator Amrit L. Kapoor dies at 82

Amrit L. Kapoor, professor of medicinal chemistry who

Amrit L. Kapoor, professor of medicinal chemistry who served St. John's University for 50 years, died at his Melville home Aug. 14 of complications from liver cancer. He was 82. (Credit: Handout)

An educator and researcher, Amrit L. Kapoor was so devoted to his college of pharmacy students that he continued his teaching this summer, despite two weeks of chills and 104-degree fevers, said his son, Dr. Deepak Kapoor of Melville.

Concerned that otherwise some of his St. John's University students wouldn't have the credits to graduate, his father "only let us admit him to the hospital after he administered his [final] exam," his son said on a memorial website.

Amrit L. Kapoor, professor of medicinal chemistry who served St. John's University for 50 years, died at his Melville home Aug. 14 of complications from liver cancer. He was 82.


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Born Oct. 15, 1931, in Amristar, India, an early career goal had been to develop and run a pharmaceutical company, his son said. When such an opportunity came along in the 1960s, his father, who had already relocated to Queens and started at St. John's, realized "his passion was not making money, but teaching."

"In addition to being a brilliant scientist, Dr. Kapoor was a devoted teacher and mentor to countless students. . . . I consider myself to be privileged to have been one of his students," said Robert A. Mangione, St. John's provost.

Kapoor counted as friends "ambassadors, politicians and captains of industry," his son said. But, at their Thanksgiving table, he said, "you would find the son of a billionaire sitting next to the most indigent postdoctoral student."

Kapoor received bachelor's and master's degrees from Punjab University in India and, in 1956, a PhD in medicinal chemistry/pharmacy from ETH Zurich, a university known for science and technology. He did postdoctoral work at the University of Michigan and St. John's, and for several years worked as a chemist for Merck, Sharp and Dohme International in Mumbai, India, his son said.

Kapoor was "like a French baguette, crusty on the outside and mushy on the inside," his son said, especially once his grandchildren came along. Kapoor "was the best basketball-playing grandfather ever," wrote a young grandson on the memorial site.

Besides his son, Kapoor is survived by his wife of 53 years, Renu Kapoor, of Melville; two other sons, Arun of Allentown, Pa., and Sunil of Reston, Va.; a daughter, Kavita Sethi of Singapore; five grandsons and four granddaughters.

A funeral service was held Aug. 16 at Moloney's Lake Funeral Home, Lake Ronkonkoma, followed by cremation, with a Hindu chautha service held Aug. 17 at the Asa Mai Hindu Temple, Hicksville.

With an eye to funding a scholarship, the Dr. Amrit L. Kapoor Medicinal Chemistry Graduate Research Memorial Award has been set up at St. John's University, where contributions can be made.

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