- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2002

Prem Kumar Walekar was ready to put behind a long life of hard work and retire in his native India.
A bullet from a sniper's rifle shattered that dream Thursday as Mr. Walekar was filling his taxicab at an Aspen Hill gas station. He was one of six persons randomly killed by single bullets.
In Takoma Park yesterday, Mr. Walekar's body, wearing a white suit and clutching a single red rose, lay in an open casket. Next to him were enlarged pictures of him at different stages of his life.
Two poster boards filled with smaller photos also flanked the casket, showing Mr. Walekar, 54, as a young man in India, and with family and friends. As the pictures grow more recent, the once clean-shaven Mr. Walekar appeared with a mustache, and later the full beard he wore when he was shot.
Friends and family at the Seventh-day Adventist Church expressed a mix of sadness and remembrance, along with a sharp bitterness over the randomness of his death.
"There's one bad man, but there's so many good people who are showing their blessings and prayer," said Mr. Walekar's sister-in-law, Saroj Isaac.
Nieces and nephews sang songs and remembered a man they called "Prem Uncle" while standing under a video screen that flashed snapshots from his life. Mr. Walekar was remembered for being quiet, but funny, generous and caring, a man who would show his affection with a gentle pinch of a child's cheek.
A British doctor who performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation after Mr. Walekar was shot also attended the funeral.
"I think it was so fast that he didn't feel any pain," the doctor said before addressing the funeral service. "Why was it someone else and not me; I tried to do all I could, but obviously it wasn't enough."
The doctor, who did not want to be identified out of concern for her safety, said she sought out the family afterward and said they have been grateful.
At the podium, she described Mr. Walekar's last moments. As he stumbled from his cab to the doctor's car, Mr. Walekar asked her to call for an ambulance.
"Mr. Walekar passed away as he looked up at the sky," she told the mourners.
Mr. Walekar, who was born in Pune, India, had prepared a home there and planned to retire there with his wife, Margaret. Mr. Walekar, whose name means "Prince of Love," immigrated at age 18 to the United States, where he went to school, the funeral program said.
Relatives said he worked hard, sent money home to his father in India and helped bring his siblings to the United States. Mr. Walekar's father would proudly tell his co-workers that his son was in America, relatives said during the service.
He married his wife, Margaret, in 1976. The couple have a daughter and a son.
Lazarus Borge, a relative, told the mourners Mr. Walekar "was indiscriminately shot dead by an elusive assailant, those evil hands entered his life like a snap, in an instant."
"He was a very dedicated person, a very charitable and a humble man," Mr. Borge said.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide