November 3, 1940 — April 29, 2023
Dr. Vykuntapathi Thota, 82, of Colonial Heights, VA passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 29, 2023. Vykuntapathi was born in Purushottama Patnam in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on November 3, 1940 to Seshadri Naidu Thota and Lakshamamma Byra Thota. He was the youngest of 12 siblings. Vykuntapathi received an academic gold medal and graduated top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Osmania University in 1961. After graduating with his undergraduate degree, he was selected to be part of the first agricultural science foreign exchange program between India and the United States where he was placed at Kansas State University. At Kansas State he excelled academically and graduated with a Master of Science in Agriculture and Applied Science in 1962. Following his studies at Kansas State, Vykuntapathi pursued and graduated with a Ph. D. in Education from Michigan State University. After graduating, Vykuntapathi began a lifelong career in higher education which spanned 52 years. He started his career at Michigan State University and then went on to be an Assistant Professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. While he was proud of his work at those two institutions, his crowning professional achievements took place during his tenure at Virginia State University. Vykuntapathi served Virginia State University with dedication and distinction for over 47 years. He guided the University in a multitude of leadership capacities to include Full Professor of Education, Director of Summer School, Director for the University Center for Instructional Media & Technology, Chairman of the Department of Education, and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. Vykuntapathi established a record of awards, honors and achievements to include Professor of the Year at Virginia State University 1981&1982, the Virginia Educational Media Association (VEMA) Meritorious Service Award, Presidential Award Phi Delta Kappa, Kappa Delta Phi, Beta Kappa Chi, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, and International Who’s Who of Intellectuals to name a few. Upon retirement in 2018 and having distinguished himself in teaching, research and service; having made documented extraordinary contributions to his department, college and the University, the Virginia State University Board of Visitors unanimously conferred upon him the status of Professor Emeritus. Vykuntapathi’s great exuberance for life and good humor was contagious to all who knew him. These characteristics made him popular with friends, colleagues, and students; but he was loved by so many because Vykuntapathi was thoughtful, intentional, and took the time to truly invest in others. Vykuntapathi was the type of person who made you feel comfortable, included, and most importantly safe. In his free time, Vykuntapathi enjoyed cheering on his Kansas State Wildcats and Michigan State Spartans. He loved spending time with his family and friends. He was an integral part of the community, helping anyone and everyone in any capacity that was needed. Among his many gifts, he will always be remembered for his wonderful singing talents, the stories he would tell of his adventures growing up in India and his early years in the United States, and his love of good food. Vykuntapathi had many titles throughout his life, but the ones that meant the most to him were that of husband and father. He adored his beloved wife, with whom he shared 54 beautiful years of marital bliss, and cherished his time with his three children. Vykuntapathi is survived by his beloved wife, Ratnagirikumari Thota, as well as his children Sri Lakshmi Thota, Kishore Seshu Thota, and Padmasai Panchu Thota. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 6, 2023 at 10:00 A.M. at the Colonial Heights Chapel of E. Alvin Small Funeral Homes Crematory 2033 Boulevard, Colonial Heights, VA 23834. A Celebration of Life luncheon will follow the memorial service at 12:00 P.M. and will be held on the campus of Virginia State University at the President’s House located at 1 Hayden Drive Petersburg, Virginia 23806. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Dr. Vykuntapathi Thota Honors Scholarship Fund at Virginia State University. Donations can be made via this link:
https://giving.vsu.edu/s/1939/lg21/form.aspx?sid=1939&gid=2&pgid=418&cid=1063 On the Virginia State University giving page, scroll down to the DESIGNATIONS section and select “Please choose other designations,” a pop-up box will appear where you can either scroll to or type in the search bar “Dr. Vykuntapathi Thota Honors Scholarship Fund” to choose the appropriate scholarship.