Prabavathy Kawai Pursued Science, Culture, Friendship and Love


Prabavathy “Praba” Kawai, of Saline, Michigan passed away on Thursday, February 15, 2024.

Born in Madurai, India, Praba grew up in Chennai. Praba's life was a collage of encounters with people and cultures. She graduated with an Electronics and Communication Engineering degree at the College of Engineering, Guindy in Chennai in 1966. Her curiosity and ambition led her across oceans to Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she pursued further studies in electronics engineering, and then joined, as a computer memory design engineer, Burroughs in NJ that was a major maker of sophisticated business equipment.

While working, Praba met her future husband Takayuki “Yuki” Kawai. They started to attract each other and their love brought the start of a life together, launching from a celebration of their wedding at the Riverside Church in Manhattan in April 1970. Yuki worked for NSK, a major manufacturer of bearings and precision automotive and industrial components. Due to his work assignments, the couple relocated from New Jersey to Morton Grove, Illinois, then Ann Arbor and Saline, Michigan, then Kawasaki, Japan, then St. Albans and Nottingham, the United Kingdom, then back to Kawasaki, then back to Ann Arbor and Saline where she sadly had the last breath.

Their son Tomoyuki “Tomo” was born in Evanston, Illinois, and their twin daughters Mayako and Sumako joined the family in Ann Arbor.

Praba took over Yuki’s interest in archaeology and started her study at the University of East London to obtain a bachelor’s degree. She continued studying and received a master’s degree at Leicester University in the UK. Her thesis was “Development of Pottery during the Jomon Period” in Japan.

Praba and Yuki enjoyed their trips to Crete and Upper Nile among other archaeological sites, as well as local places such as Roman Verulamium and Deva in the UK. She wished to visit places like Uruk, Nineveh, Akkad, and Babylon in Mesopotamia with Yuki, but her dreams never came true.

Throughout Praba’s lifetime, she maintained strong and wonderful close friendships, many of whom visited her in the US, Japan, and the UK. As an avid reader and lifelong learner, she became fluent in Japanese, thanks to the University of Michigan Language School, and a skillful home cook. Praba and Yuki often hosted dinner parties. In 1988 while living in Japan, she entered the Lamb Cooking Competition organized by the New Zealand Consulate. She took home the Grand Prize for her creative and delicious “Spicy Grilled Lamb Chops.” She also hosted an Indian Cooking Class Series from her home in Kawasaki, welcoming the mothers of Mayako and Sumako’s elementary and middle school classmates. Praba’s daughters have inherited her love for cooking and entertaining.

During Praba’s life of pursuit of science, culture, friendship and love, Lupus and MS sadly started to attack her, and it gradually became quite challenging for her to live a normal and comfortable life.

Praba is survived by her husband Yuki of Saline, their children Tomoyuki and his wife Marii of Tokyo, Mayako and her fiancée Peter Pinto of New York, Sumako and her husband Duncan Quinn-Smith of New York, her brother Dr. Arthur Retnakaran of Toronto, her sister Dr. Neelavathy Pushparaj of New Jersey, her sister Premavathy Radhakrishna of Memphis, her sister-in-law Margaret Manoharan of Atlanta, her sister-in-law Christine Karuna-Karan of Seattle, Yuki’s brother Hiroyuki Kawai of Tokyo, his sister Suwako Nakamura and her husband Dr. Hiroki Nakamura of Okazaki, Japan. Tomoyuki and Marii’s daughter Riho and son Ryota also survive Praba.

Friends may join the family for a time of visitation on Monday, February 26, 2024 from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. at the Robison-Bahnmiller Funeral Home in Saline. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Prabavathy’s name may be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. To leave a memory you have of Praba, to sign her guestbook or for directions please visit

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