Dhaka, Sep 13 : Father Richard William Timm, a superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross in Dhaka, has passed away at the age of 97, an official said here on Sunday.
Father Timm had been unwell and was being treated at the Holy Cross House in the University of Notre Dame campus in the UStstate of Indiana, where he died on Friday afternoon, Siba Rozario, Communications Manager of Caritas Bangladeshm told IANS.
Father Timm, a Holy Cross missionary priest to Bangladesh who for the US in 2016, was suffering from old-age complications, Rozario added.
Conferred with the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1987, Father Timm was a legend in Bangladesh.
He was an internationally renowned zoologist who discovered at least 250 nematodes, a group of worms that make up the phylum nematoda. He was also an educator, a development worker and an author.
In response to his activities for development, Father Timm was honoured with the citizenship from three different governments.
When he arrived in Bangladesh in 1952, he established a department at the St. Gregory’s College in Dhaka to introduce students to the biological sciences.
When the cyclone and massive tidal surge of November 1970 devastated the coast of Bengal, Father Timm mobilized relief and for the first time encountered brutal communal conflicts and rural power struggles.
Initiating and coordinating relief funded by foreign charities, Father Timm demonstrated a concern for all in need, regardless of creed or ethnic origin.
The Ramon Magsaysay Awards Board of Trustees recognized Father Timm for his 35 years of sustained commitment of mind and heart to helping Bangladeshis.
From the Language Movement in 1952, to the social uproar leading to the Liberation War,, Father Timm has experienced it all very closely.
During the Liberation War in 1971, Father Timm played a significant role in forming global public opinion in favour of Bangladesh. He also took part in the reconstruction of the war-torn country after independence.
When asked why he never chose to live elsewhere besides Bangladesh, he had said “Because of the people of Bangladesh. I have visited many places and had the privilege of working with people of diverse origins and backgrounds, but none of them could take as big a place in my heart as Bangladeshi people did. I really love them. They are really precious. I have never found a society of people who are more loving, tolerant and caring of one another, who are simple and friendly.”
After the war, Father Timm participated and led various rehabilitation works, and also took trips to Bangladesh’s remotest sites.
During the war, he served as the Director of Cyclone Rehabilitation Project on Monpura Island for six months and later the Planning Officer of Caritas Bangladesh.
He went on to become the National Director of Caritas.
In the mid-50s, Father Timm also visited the Chittagong Hill Tracts and wrote three scientific papers where he showed how the tribal are being deprived of their land rights which also is the violation of their rights as citizens.
His book “Adivasis in Bangladesh” in 1991, was published by the Minority Rights Group in London.