OBITUARY

Dr. K.R. Rao

August 27, 1931January 15, 2021
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Dr. K R. (Mohan) Rao passed away on January 15,2021 at the age of 89, in his hometown of Arlington, Tx. He is survived by his wife of 66 years (Karuna), his son (Ramesh), his daughter (Rekha), their respective spouses, 5 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren & Rekha’s stepchildren and families. Dr. Rao was born in Madras, India in 1931 and was the oldest of 11 children. He married Karuna in 1955 and journeyed to the United States in 1957 as a Fulbright Scholar. In 1966, they were the first Indian family to move to Arlington. They spent their lives centered around campus activities, entertaining his many international students and traveling the globe as he shared his incredible knowledge. Dr. Rao always wore a smile and had a good word for everyone. He enjoyed July 4th parades, family gatherings, cold beer, another match of tennis and many a pizza party. He lived all of his years doing exactly what he loved in the world of academia.

Dr. Rao was a life-time scholar and educator earning a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1952 from the University of Madras, followed by a Masters in Electrical Engineering in 1959 and a Masters in Nuclear Engineering in 1960, both from the University of Florida. He then earned a PHD in Electrical Engineering at the University of New Mexico in 1966 and immediately joined the teaching staff in the Electrical Engineering Department at Arlington State College which is now the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).

In 1974, Dr. Rao was credited with co-inventing Discrete Cosign Transform (DCT) that is the heart of digital signal processing and communications which is still used in wired and wireless technology today. He was a member of Academy of Distinguished Research Scholars, one of the highest research honors at UTA. Over his 54-yr tenure at UTA and an Honored IEEE Fellow, Dr. Rao gave many keynote speeches, wrote multiple research papers, authored or coauthored over 20 books in the field of digital signal processing and image processing which are pillars of modern technology that we enjoy every day. He also conducted multiple workshops/seminars in addition to visiting professorships at universities all over the world.

His passion was also to recruit and develop graduate students from around the globe. He mentored and supervised 113 Masters and 39 PHD students to their graduation which is an academic milestone. His graduate students are well placed with successful careers because of his efforts. He continued to maintain genuine interest and kept in contact with them thru the years. Dr. Rao was a simple person with a huge positive influence on many students. He demonstrated incredible care and strong commitment to improve students’ technical skills, which made him one of the most sought-after teachers at UTA. Many of the faculty looked to him as a role-model. He had been very active and continued to work out at the end of the day in the university gymnasium throughout his teaching career. This has been a great motivation and inspiration for many students. Even at 89 years old, Dr. Rao had an incredible work ethic, never retired and was still a full-term professor until his passing. While he was a visionary and a brilliant man, he was also humble, never boasting about his accomplishments and was always approachable. No matter whom he was talking to whether professional or personal, he was genuinely interested in the conversation and always asked a lot of questions. He will forever be a legend and the world is a little emptier without him. Dr. Rao will always be missed but never forgotten!

Please access his profile on Wikipedia for additional information on Dr Rao. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K._R._Rao

In lieu of flowers, Dr. Rao’s family is requesting contributions be made to Dr. Rao’s Electrical Engineering Graduate Fellowship at the University of Texas at Arlington. In 2013, Dr. Rao established this fellowship for the purpose of the Department of Electrical Engineering to award scholarships to Electrical Engineering graduate students with an F1 Visa Status. To make a gift to Dr. Rao’s fellowship in his memory, click here to give online. (https://www.give.uta.edu/KR-Rao-Tribute)

Due to COVID-19, a limited private service is scheduled. This will be followed by a Celebration of Life post COVID-19 restrictions.

The private service on Friday, January 29 will include an Indian Prayer Service from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. followed by a Traditional service from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. CST and can be viewed livestream at https://www.facebook.com/292871084534209.

Services

  • Indian Prayer Service

    Friday, January 29, 2021

    VIEW VIDEO

  • Traditional Service

    Friday, January 29, 2021

    VIEW VIDEO

Memories

Dr. K.R. Rao

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Martha Hurley

February 24, 2021

It was a half century ago I first met Dr. Rao at UTA. What a delightful man he was—always cheerful, welcoming (his office door stayed open), thoughtful, funny and a bit rascally. He had a warm heart perhaps made warmer by his puffy down jacket and the extra-extra-extra steamy hot sauces restaurants would bring to him as soon as he was seated. He had a passion for travel and many years ago showed me his photos of the magnificent Gellert Spa in Budapest. Decades later, because of him, that became my first stop on my first visit to Budapest.

He created happiness. May all of our memories of him ever inspire joy.

Mostafa Ghandehari

February 1, 2021

Professor Rao was always cheerful and happy. I regularly saw him on campus and the gym when I went to play sports. I used his invention, discrete cosine transform in a DSP course which I taught. I am sorry for the loss.

Subhash and Veera Arora

January 30, 2021

You are going to be missed by all of us in this community as a great man because of your great talent and accomplishments. We consider our self to be lucky to be a friend of great human being like you. Whenever we meet you always ask us about the welfare of our children. All our children remember you too. May his soul rest in peace.

Mike Manry

January 29, 2021

I was very sad to hear the news about the passing of Dr. Rao (Mohan). His career spans the entire history of the EE graduate program at UTA. During this time, he’s made enormous contributions to the reputation of the school through his stellar publication record and the very large number of students that he’s trained. As others have said, he worked very steadily and made significant research contributions to image and video coding throughout his career. Using his own time and connections to other world class researchers, he helped his graduates find good positions and launch their own successful careers, and he has always kept track of them.

During Mohan’s time at UTA, he and his wife Karuna have always befriended new faculty members and introduced them to many of the well-established faculty. Mohan was one of my best and closest friends and I miss him deeply.

Smitha Hatti

January 29, 2021

Dr. Rao had a genuine interest in the well-being of his students. Even those like me who had only taken a class with him. He always had a kind word to share or offer encouragement. Quite often our chit-chat would detour into reviews of local Indian restaurants and their best offerings. He would also offer his insight into best places to take my toddler for a walk or play. His enthusiasm and joy and contentment with his own life will be something I will always remember as life lessons.

Chinniah Poosapadi

January 29, 2021

I was his student at UTA. I took a couple of his courses and really enjoyed them. The knowledge I gained from his course is useful until this day at my work. He was so approachable and such a great person. May his soul rest in peace. My prayers are with his family.

Norman Cox

January 29, 2021

I will always be thankful to Dr. Rao for his longstanding support of his students. Dr. Rao served as my MS and PhD advisor and continued to help me throughout my career. I will be forever grateful. I will also miss visiting with him throughout the years and recalling interesting and fun experiences we had back when I was a student. He will be sorely missed by us all. Thank you Rao family for sharing him with us.

Wei Gong

January 29, 2021

Dear Dr. Rao, you left so suddenly. We are all extremely saddened by your loss. In the past two weeks, I've had many fond memories of our times together. You were not only my Ph.D. advisor but also a very important part of my life. Diane said to me, ‘”Both Dr. & Mrs. Rao have been like grandparents to us. We hung around with them more than with our own grandparents.”

Dr. Rao, During my Ph.D. student years I still remember that every morning a deck of papers was placed on my desk by your secretary, and I knew how lucky I was then.

During the early stages of HDTV development , you were asked to be a consultant for many institutions and companies because you co-invented the DCT (Discreet Cosine Transform), You generously involved your Ph.D students in this work. You took Lam and I to conferences and on business trips. When you took us to Columbia University and generously introduced us to your peers, we learned of the applications of the DCT in HDTV and we realized that you were a giant in this research.

When you showed me your 28th book, I asked you whether it was your last book and you said no without thinking. You worked until your last day, and I always admired your work ethic

Dear Dr. Rao, You were a fixture in my life since I met you. My wedding, both my kids’ birth and their growing milestone. You and Mrs. Rao gave us so many advises/tips in such humble manner and we wish we can get more at every steps in our life. Your life was always busy and eventful but you still managed to arrange dinner with us every other week or month as long as both our families were in town. I wish we could have continued these dinners in the last year.

You are missed by many people around the world as a great man because of your kindness and many accomplishments.

Dear Dr. Rao, May you rest in Peace.

Shankar Venkataraman

January 29, 2021

Dear Dr Rao -
Thank you, thank you for making an indelible mark in my life, starting with accepting me as your student and your continued guidance and mentorship; you made me what I am today. Thank you for being in my life. My prayers are with Karuna, Rekha, Ramesh, and rest of the family.
Om Shanti.
Shankar Venkataraman

Sapna Vasudevan

January 29, 2021

Dr. Rao....he was my Masters Thesis Advisor, later dear dear dear family friend to my small family here in Arlington. He loved and adored my husband(Ashwin) and I and our little girl. He will always be in our hearts and minds..flashing that great smile of his and saying "Super!!" whenever we tell him something good happening in our lives....I will always remember going out for dinner, every few months over the last 6-7 years, with him and Mrs. Rao...they were our mentors, friends and true well wishers...I will always love him....Om Shanti, Dr Rao :( and deepest condolences to Mrs. Rao and their family.

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