Ela Kavita Waterman, age 79, of Madison, passed away on Saturday 6/10/2023 after a brief illness. She was born on 4/19/1944 in Dehra Dun, U.P., India, the daughter of Maheshwari and COL B.P. Singh. She married Robert Waterman on 8/15/1981 in Madison. Ela was the elder sister to three brothers: Vinay, Vimal and Vivek, all of whom preceded her in death. They were raised in an Army family and lived all over India. She graduated from Loretto College in Lucknow and traveled around the world as a stewardess for several years before coming to the US in in 1968 to earn a Masters in Speech Pathology at Michigan State. She stayed to marry Robert Niemi with whom she moved to Madison before they divorced, and soon after she met Robert Waterman with whom she had a long, at times challenging but always loving marriage over the next forty five years. They lived together in several places including San Francisco CA, Frickenhausen Germany, and even… Texas before returning to Madison in 1995. There Bob practiced psychiatry until retiring in 2022, and Ela, who had earned a second Masters in Social Work from UW-Madison, pursued her many interests.
Ela was a bright star to all who were fortunate enough to be her friend, which she considered to be the highest form of relationship. She was a passionate student of Indian culture, of religious and spiritual philosophy, a writer and journalist, an artist and singer of Indian music. She was a serious conversationalist, often impacting others deeply with her insight into the human condition. Ela was a devotee of Mata Amritanandamayi, “the Hugging Saint”, for over thirty years and drew great comfort and strength from Amma’s divine teachings and example.
Ela was the last surviving member of her nuclear Indian family. She is survived by her greater Indian family including her dear cousin Menakshi, two sisters-in-law Gunjan and Meera, and two nieces Ruchika and Deepika, as well as her American family including brothers-in-law David of Madison and Doug of Rochester NY, sister in law Anne Ferguson of Memphis, and their children and partners.
Ela’s death was a deep and shockingly abrupt departure for all who loved her, but as we reflect on her character and style it becomes clear that she left this life at the right time for her, sparing them the prospect of a long drawn-out decline. She is free to fly now and we wish her Godspeed on the next phase of her eternal journey.
A memorial service for Ela is planned for Saturday 7/1/2023 at Unity of Madison at 601 Tompkins Drive in Monona, with doors opening at noon and the service at 1pm with a simple meal to follow.
Cress Funeral Service
3610 Speedway Road
Madison, WI 53705