OVERLAND PARK, KS (June 11, 2015) – The love story of Dr. Sharad Gavankar and his wife, Dr. Shalini Gavankar, has taken them from India to Missouri to Kansas, where they now live at Tallgrass Creek retirement community in Overland Park.
As they look forward to their 51st wedding anniversary later this month on June 26, they find comfort in knowing their love for one another has supported each other's career in the field of Psychiatry and has always been based on mutual respect and admiration.
The Gavankars met in Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore, India. They married on June 26, 1964, eventually coming to the United States from their home in Mumbai, India, in 1980. Sharad studied at the University of Missouri in Kansas City while Shalini studied at Kansas City University Medical Center.
Shalini became a female psychiatrist and worked in the Federal Bureau of Prison in Springfield, Missouri. Her job placed her in the daily company of hundreds of convicted felons – some of whom were murderers. She drove 72 miles each way to her job.
"I was afraid at times," she said, "but I was able to help the prisoners. They called me ' Mother India,' because they realized I was sincere in my work and cared for them."
Sharad's pride in his wife is evident as he gently holds her hand and speaks fondly of her groundbreaking work in the prison system.
"She was a tough cookie," he said. "I was never worried about her job in the prison."
Sharad opened a private practice in Joplin, Missouri, where he helped children, adolescents, adults, and the geriatric population. He also treated patients who had drug and alcohol problems.
The Gavankars are thankful that they have been given the chance in their careers to give back to the community.
"We have helped so many people," said Sharad, "that we feel like we have extended families all around us."
Shalini agrees. "It has been nice to see a person who is mentally ill, but who has become functional with our help," she said.
The Gavankars moved to Tallgrass Creek from their home in Lee's Summit, Missouri. They have a daughter, Shobha, and a son, Sandeep. Sobha is on a high school staff in Olathe, Kansas, while Sandeep is a physician specializing in sports medicine who practices in North Carolina. The Gavankars have three grandchildren.
"We have always had a wonderful life together," said Shalini. "We are blessed."