A gift to honor her father was ‘the obvious thing to do’

Today is Day of Giving, it’s a day to celebrate our donors and to educate students about how alumni contributions of time, talent and treasure help current student and enrich the University. This is the second of three stories we are running this week to mark Day of Giving.

Orlando F.X. Desouza headshotOrlando F.X. deSouza was born in 1928 in Goa, India, and spent his early life in Uganda, where his father was a general medical practitioner. Logical and analytical, deSouza pursued an engineering degree at a prestigious college in Poona, India, and worked at Caltex during the boom time for the oil industry at Caltex.

In 1970, he took a sabbatical from Caltex to earn a master’s degree in engineering halfway across the world at University of Detroit.

“I was 13 at the time, so I don’t fully know why he chose University of Detroit,” said his daughter Nandita M. deSouza from her home in England. “But his brother was a Jesuit who was very prominent in education in India and that may have been one reason.”

deSouza said her father often talked about the importance of education and about his time at University of Detroit.

“One of his favorite sayings was ‘if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime,’” she said. “He believed it was important to teach people to do things for themselves.”

She remembers him telling her and her three siblings that if he didn’t have any money to give them, his great desire would be that all his children be well educated and able to live lives with all the opportunities a good education makes possible.

Nandita deSouza received that education and is retired now after “a very full and satisfying career” in the United Kingdom, most recently serving as a professor and co-director of the Cancer Research UK Imaging Center at the Institute of Cancer Research.

As deSouza neared the end of his life, his daughter decided to set up a scholarship with the money she knew he would leave to her in his will. She chose his alma matewr Detroit Mercy as the recipient.

The Orlando F.X. deSouza Endowment Fund will provide scholarships for graduate students — like her father — studying mechanical, electrical or civil engineering in perpetuity.

“It seemed the obvious thing to do,” she said. “A few weeks before he died I mentioned to him what I wanted to do. He nodded and smiled. I think he would have approved.”

To contribute to The Orlando F.X. deSouza Endowment Fund or create a scholarship in honor of someone, call 313-993-1250.

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