Washington (BWA)--Samson Chowdhury, a vice president of the Baptist World Alliance between 1985 and 1990, died in hospital in Singapore on January 5, just short of his 86th birthday.
Chowdhury was one of Bangladesh's leading businessmen and industrialists. At the time of his death, he was chairman of Square Group, a company he cofounded in the 1950s. That company grew into one of the largest conglomerates in Bangladesh, with approximately 28,000 employees in various industries, such as cosmetics, textiles, agricultural products, information technology, health services, and media.
In addition to Square Group, Chowdhury served as chair of several other companies, including Mutual Trust Bank, Astras, Micro Industries Development and Services, and Central Depository Bangladesh. He held directorships on a number of other companies' boards.
Chowdhury was the founding president of the Bangladesh Association of Publicly Listed Companies, was president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industries from 1996-1997, and was chairman of the Bangladesh chapter of Transparency International from 2004-2007.
He received a number of awards and recognitions. He was named Business Executive of the Year by the American Chamber in Bangladesh in 1998; was recognized by the Daily Star and DHL Worldwide Express as the Best Entrepreneur of Bangladesh for 2000-2001; received the Banker's Forum Award in 2005 for Business Ethics, Honesty and Transparency; was recognized by the National Board of Revenue as one of the top 10 tax payers of Bangladesh since 2005; and received Commercial Important Person status from the government of Bangladesh.
Chowdhury was born in 1926 and, after completing his education in India, returned to what was then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and settled at Ataikula village in Pabna district where his father worked as a medical officer. In 1952, he started a small pharmacy in Ataikula village in northwest Bangladesh. He ventured into a partnership pharmaceutical company with three friends in 1958. That partnership later became the Square Group.
In addition to being a BWA vice president, Chowdhury served in other areas of the global Baptist organization, including on the BWA General Council, the Executive Committee, the Baptist World Aid Committee, the Promotion and Development Committee, and the Memorial Committee.
Chowdhury was elected president of the Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship (BBCF) a dozen times, and was honorary general secretary for 14 years, between 1956 and 1969. He is a former president of both the National Church Council of Bangladesh and the National Evangelical Alliance.
"We remember Mr. Chowdhury's commitment toChrist, his selfless service and his exemplary deportment," BWA General Secretary Neville Callam said in tribute. "His dedication to the ministry of the BWA was evident in his generosity in supporting the BWA mission."
"Samson H. Chowdhury has made immense contributions to the development of various industrial sectors in the country," said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
"He was a rare example of honesty in business," said Anis Ud Dowla, chairman of ACI Group in Bangladesh.
He leaves wife Anita, sons Samuel, Anjan, and Tapan, who is president of the BBCF and a member of the BWA General Council, the Executive Committee and the Budget and Finance Committee, and daughter, Ratna Patra.
Funeral services were held on January 6 in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and burial on January 7 in his home district of Pabna.