Sambamurthy  Thyagarajan

Obituary of Sambamurthy Thyagarajan

ALBANY – Sambamurthy (“Thyag”) Thyagarajan, 85, an Albany resident for more than 50 years, passed away peacefully at his home on February 16, 2023, due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. Thyag was born on October 22, 1937, in Sholingur, Madras State, India and emigrated to the United States in 1961. He is survived by his wife, Catherine T. Lawson, his daughter, Lara Thyagarajan, his brothers Nagas and Sri, his sister Mahalakshmi, and six nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and brothers Subra and Dukku. Thyag and his family moved to Albany in 1972 when he became the executive director for the Capital District Regional Planning Commission (CDRPC). He was devoted to city living and resided on State Street in Center Square for nearly 50 years. He had a natural zest for life and was optimistic to a fault. When asked how he could be such a constant optimist he said, “you cannot develop a 20-year regional plan for cities without being optimistic!” For decades Thyag could regularly be seen biking around the Empire State Plaza, Washington Park and the campus of University at Albany. He loved to cook and would hardly allow anyone else in the kitchen. In his retirement, Thyag traveled extensively internationally – always on the lookout for how cities could improve their transportation planning. Thyag was well-known internationally as an urban and regional planner and was a charter member of the American Planning Association. In his career in regional planning from 1963 to 1982, he was responsible for the development of regional plans for the Baltimore, Detroit, the Albany Capital District, and the Tri-State New York City region, where he was Deputy Director of the Tri-State Regional Planning Commission (now NYMTC). He also worked in Belgrade in present-day Serbia, in London as the Chief Transportation Planner, and with the United Nations Development Program in South Korea. For more than 30 years, Thyag served as an Adjunct Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University at Albany, in the Department of Geography and Planning. Following his career in urban planning, Thyag was the Director of Facilities Planning for the NYS Division for Youth and later a senior planner at Energy Answers. Thyag was committed to his community and served as a board member of local organizations involved in health and human services and served as a member of the Albany Civic Forum; Riverfront Action; the Albany Land Use Advisory Committee of the State Commission on the Capital Region; and Chair of the strategic planning committee for the Ten Broeck Mansion. Thyag was the third oldest of six children, raised in Mumbai, India, known as Thachu to his family. He received his B.A. in architecture at the University of Bombay and his master’s in city and Regional Planning from the Ohio State University. He was a devoted father and husband and will be greatly missed. Paula Corey, Lara’s mother, and Catherine's three children, Anathea (John) Moles, Cassea (Peter) Hewson, and Benjamin R. Lawson, and her grandchildren and great grandchildren, mourn his passing. A memorial service will be held in the Spring. Donations in his name may be made to the Albany Community Hospice in appreciation of their outstanding comfort care and services. Cremation Arrangements by Simple Choices, Inc. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared with the family, online at:
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