What is Celine Gounder’s ethnicity? Her European and Indian connections

Celine Gounder

Dr. Celine Gounder confirmed that her husband, Grant Wahl, died due to an ascending aortic aneurysm rupture. Gounder wrote on Wahl’s Substack website that no amount of CPR could have saved Wahl and affirmed that his death didn’t involve foul play. Gounder told CBS News:

“It’s just one of these things that had been likely brewing for years, and for whatever reason it happened at this point in time. To know that he was loved by so many people makes me feel a little less alone. It’s like a warm hug when you really need it.”

Celine Gounder is half-Tamil-Indian and half-French

Celine Gounder was born on 22nd April 1977 to Raj Natarajan Gounder and Nicole Pantenelli in the United States. Raj is Tamil-Indian from the Perumapalayam village in India, and Nicole is from Normandy, France, making Celine half-Tamil-Indian and half-French. 

Raj was raised by Chinnamal and Thirumalai Gounder in Tamil Nadu state, India. Raj overcame the death of his father to become the first person from his village to graduate college and travel abroad for advanced studies. 

Raj met Nicole Pantanelli while studying materials science at Northwestern University. Nicole had immigrated to the United States from her birthplace in Normandy, France. The pair married in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1972. 

After working as an engineer, Raj secured a job with Boeing as Space Programs Manager, prompting him to move the family to Seattle, where he and Nicole raised three daughters: Celine Gounder, Sabine Wallis, and Stephanie Gounder. 

Celine wrote on Wahl’s website that people from the United States, France, and India are mourning his passing. She wrote:

“Grant joined me on my first trip to my father’s village in India, endearing himself to everyone. My family in France and India are mourning him, too. Grant wasn’t just my family. He was our family.”

Celine tweeted in November 2020 that she used her caste name Gounder as her last name because it’s part of her history and identity:

“My father changed his name to Gounder in the early 1970s before I was born. My name is my name. It’s part of my history and identity, even if some of that history now is painful. I didn’t change my name when I got married. I’m not changing it now.”

Celine launched the Raj Gounder Foundation in honor of her father

Raj Nataran Gounder died on 20th January 2014, aged 70. Celine wrote on Wahl’s webpage that Grant helped her family cope with Raj’s passing:

“Grant and his brother Eric were the ballast to our family after my father passed away suddenly, just as I coordinated the care for Grant’s parents in their last years of life.”

Celine honored her father by creating the Raj Gounder Foundation, which supports children’s education in her native Perumapalayam. Avvudaiyappan, the former headmaster of a school in the area, talked to The New Indian Express about Celine’s contribution to the education sector:

“During her interaction with students, she motivated them to follow their passions. She sponsored the setting up of smart classrooms in the school. Every year she provides scholarships to the class 10 and 12 toppers to pursue higher education.”

He added that Celine advised villagers on the dangers of Covid-19 and how to stay safe before the disease was announced in India. She reportedly ensured that children received nutritious meals during the pandemic. 

Following Celine’s appointment on Joe Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, Celine’s native community celebrated. Celine’s cousin, S Thangavel, said: “Our family is very proud of her. Children and the residents fondly remember Celine’s visit to the village.”