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Doctor killed on I-65 loved dancing, tennis

Mallik Chaganti from his Unity Healthcare listing.

Mallik Chaganti, from his Unity Healthcare listing.

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Updated: May 21, 2014 6:36AM



A Rensselaer doctor who died in a Monday crash with two of his children wasn’t just known for his medical work in the community.

Mallik Chaganti was also known for his generosity to St. Joseph’s College — and for being light on his feet.

“During (a local dancing competition), I remember him as having cool moves, better than others,” Gary Sanders, an assistant professor of physical education at St. Joseph’s in Rensselaer, said.

Members of the college spoke fondly of Chaganti, a family practitioner who had a long history of giving to the college.

Chaganti and his children Anusha, 14, and Vivek, 9, died late Monday night when their car rear ended a semitrailer truck on Interstate 65 in Jasper County.

The family was on their way back from dropping off Chaganti’s wife at O’Hare International Airport to visit her mother and ailing father in India. Another child was injured in the crash.

Sanders said Chaganti had taken a dance class with Sanders and impressed him with how easily he picked up the steps. Chaganti even won a local contest, “Dancing with the Rensselaer Stars.”

He was also loved playing tennis, friends said.

“Dr. Chaganti had a vitality, a love for life and a twinkle in his eye,” said Terry Effinger, a friend and tennis partner. “He really embraced his family and life.”

The doctor also taught Effinger how to practice tai chi.

Liz Mills, wife of former St. Joseph’s College president Ernie Mills, also played tennis with Chaganti, she said, along with eating meals with his family.

“He was a gentle man and loved being a general practitioner,” she said. “... He will be greatly missed.”

Chaganti was named to the college’s Fellows Program in 2007. To become a fellow, a person must give $2,000 to the college over a period of five years. They can also volunteer their time with cleanup programs and other projects.

The Rev. William Stang, a professor of biology, said Chaganti was known for helping people at the college.

“He was a caring and capable physician who worked long hours to restore the gift of health to many of us,” Stang said.



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