In Memoriam: Arvind S. Marathay

Dec. 15, 2022
Arvind Marathay Memoriam Headshot

Arvind Shankar Marathay, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Optical Sciences, passed away Saturday, December 3, 2022 at 88 years old. A Celebration of Life service, held by the Marathay family, was on Friday, December 9 at the Fountains at La Cholla in Tucson.   

Arvind was among the earliest faculty members in OSC and a tremendous contributor to the College’s reputation for excellence. He was very highly regarded in the optics community, and with his family, was also a generous donor to support OSC’s students.  Even upon his retirement, he continued to visit the college and often attended the weekly colloquium program.

He was born December 11, 1933 to Shankar and Anasuya Marathay and grew up in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. After obtaining his BS in physics from Jai Hind College in India, Arvind earned an MS from Imperial College in England. He then moved to the United States to pursue his PhD in physics at Boston University.

In 1969, Arvind joined the faculty at the University of Arizona Wyant College of Optical Sciences (then the Optical Sciences Center). While a faculty member at Wyant College, in 1982, Arvind wrote Elements of Optical Coherence Theory, a book still used as a reference in many elementary optics courses. As a professor, students were his greatest concern—he mentored a special group of students from India and was committed to cultivating their interest in optics while also providing them with a sense of comfort away from their home country.

Sunita and Arvind

In an article written by Tammy Orr Wyant, Reflections -Arvind Marathay , he shared how he and his wife, Sunita, helped students from India get settled and feel welcomed—a perfect example of Arvind’s ability to be welcoming and encouraging to all students.

“In the early days of my academic career, it was uncommon for there to be students from India at the University of Arizona, and there were no groups on campus to help their transition. Sunita would find out through our friends and acquaintances that a new Indian student was arriving, and she would be one of the first to invite them to our house for a traditional meal and friendly conversation. I think her efforts were greatly appreciated.”

After Arvind’s retirement from the University in 2002, he continued to support students at the College by establishing the Marathay Family Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship in Optical Sciences. Arvind’s  thoughts for this scholarship were also captured in the Reflections article:

“It was our hope that this scholarship would help a student—at the beginning of their academic endeavors—explore the wide variety of research areas that OSC offers…The field of optics is in good hands.”

The Wyant College offers our most sincere condolences to the Marathay family while also expressing a sincere gratitude for the many ways that Arvind made an impact at the College, and especially with students. 

He is survived by his son, Prashant Marathay and daughter-in-law, Leena of San Jose, California and their two children (grandson) Ranjit, 26 and (granddaughter) Sitara, 23; his daughter, Gitika Marathay Desai and son-in-law, Amit of Boston, Massachusetts and their three daughters Anika, 18; Riana, 16; and Viena, 14. He is also survived by his sister, Kunda, of Mumbai, India.


If you wish to honor Arvind’s legacy as a professor, researcher and philanthropist, please consider making a donation to the Marathay Family Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship in Optical Sciences by contacting Kaye Rowan, Executive Director of Development at


More on Arvind

An Autobiographical Write-up about Arvind’s Life

“I Love My Sun Tran” – Starring Arvind

Memories and Thoughts

From the time I first met Arvind in 1974, what stood out to me the most was that he was one of the kindest, most caring people I have ever known. As a professor, he was always available to students both in and outside the classroom. Even after his retirement, he would still come to OSC a few times a week to meet with any student wanting his help. Arvind was a friend, colleague and mentor to many and will be greatly missed.

Jim Wyant, Founding Dean & Professor Emeritus of Optical Sciences


I enjoyed getting to know Arvind through his frequent visits to OSC, especially for the weekly colloquium.  He was genuinely interested in not just the science, but also the people involved.  Arvind and Sunita were also very generous with their scholarship support for OSC students.  Arvind really made an impression on me as an unusually kind and warm person, and I will miss him.

Thomas L. Koch, Dean and Professor of Optical Sciences


Prof. Marathay was such a humble, gentle, and kind neighbor. Whenever I met him in front of his office, which was literally right next to mine, he always smiled at me and gave me encouraging and blessing words. He asked about my research topics and we had a number of joyful conversations. He was one of the pioneering faculty members of our college, which was the Optical Sciences Center. It was my honor to have an overlap with him in my life and I will miss my friendly neighbor, Arvind.

Daewook Kim, Associate Professor of Optical Sciences & Astronomy


I came to know Prof. Arvind Marathay when I was a student at OSC in the early seventies (1971–1974) and took his class on coherence theory. There were very few Indian students and professors in those years and it was common to meet each other's families for dinner. In 1982 Arvind published his book entitled Elements of Optical Coherence Theory, and he gave me a copy at the OSA meeting held that year in Tucson, which I happened to be attending. I noted that he had mentioned my name in the Preface.

I met Arvind over the years whenever there was an opportunity. At my request, he attended the dissertation defense of one of Prof. Daewook Kim’s students whom I had mentored and steered to study at OSC (the picture you referred to in the Reflections article is from that time). I invited him to join us at the recent luncheon to celebrate Prof. Wyant’s Ives medal he received from Optica (OSA), but unfortunately he passed away before then. I will remember Arvind as a kind, gentle, and friendly person. He will be missed by those he came in contact with.

Virendra Mahajan, Adjunct Professor of Optical Sciences


Professor Emeritus Arvind Marathay was my dissertation advisor at the Optical Sciences Center as well as teacher of two courses that I took there.  After I graduated from OSC we maintained contact for the rest of our lives, even after we had both retired.  He worked some summers for a NASA contractor in the Washington, DC area where I spent most of my career, and I visited Tucson several times.  We had many interesting discussions, and I continued to learn from him even after he was not formally my teacher.  I was saddened to hear of his passing, but we are all fortunate to have had him with us as long as we did.

Martin Lahart, PhD 1975


Excerpt from Reflections: Arvind S. Marathay

For many reasons, one of the professors who impressed me the most was Professor Arvind S. Marathay, who taught a course in physical optics in the 1970s. The combination of lectures, homework problems, classroom demonstrations, and tests made his class very interesting. The range of topical areas covered in professor Marathay’s presentations made a great impression on me.

William H. Swantner, PhD 1978