Walia suffered a heart attack while in India on January 27.
Long-time Republican and former GOP candidate for mayor of Venice, Florida, Harry Walia died in India on January 27. He was 64.
Walia, born Harbhajan Singh Ahluwalia, suffered a heart attack while he was in his home town of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, India.
A day earlier, he was in Delhi along with more than a dozen Indian American friends attending a wedding.
Friends and family remembered Walia as an Indian American political pioneer.
“He was really a generous man, who loved politics,” said Florida entrepreneur and prominent Republican donor Danny Gaekwad. “Politics was in his blood. He was always generous, giving money to candidates as well as causes.”
Gaekwad told the American Bazaar that he was with Walia at the wedding in Delhi on January 26 and heard about his friend’s death while at the Frankfurt airport on his way back to the United States.
“He was not feeling well and told me he wanted to go to his brother’s home in Chandigarh,” Gaekwad said. “He was an Indian American pioneer who was in politics several decades ago, well before many of us were,” Gaekwad said. “I will dearly miss him in Florida politics. He was a good ally.”
Walia had lost his wife to cancer last year.
In Florida and Indian American Republican politics, Walia had served in many positions. In September 2016, he was named to the Asian Pacific American Advisory Committee of then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s.
In 2010, the businessman had mounted an unsuccessful campaign for Mayor of Venice, his hometown.
Among other positions he served include as co-chair for the Bill McCollum for Governor campaign, as Sarasota County chair for Marco Rubio’s Senate campaign, and as a finance coordinator for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004.
Walia, a real estate investor, was involved in assisted living business in Bradenton, Florida. He was one of the partners in Harmony Palms, a senior, assisted living and memory care facility in Manatee County.
Walia’s younger brother Maninder Walia is a small business owner in Indianapolis and an active member of the community. Maninder Walia’s family has been amongst the earliest Sikh families in Indiana and he serves as the board member for Centre for Interfaith Cooperation. He also served as the president of Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis and has been involved in civic engagement and inter-faith dialogues.
On hearing the news of his brother’s death, Maninder rushed for India. They have another brother who lives in Delhi, India.