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Columbia Business Monthly

Hotel Industry Leader, Philanthropist J.P. Rama, Dies at 74

Feb 27, 2022 04:28PM ● By David Dykes

By Amy Bonesteel

Founding principal and vice chairman of the board for Auro Hotels Jayanti P. “J.P.” Rama, 74, died Feb. 17 while in India. 

Rama specialized in operations, purchasing and negotiations for Auro. He came to the U.S. in the 1970s to work with his brother Hasmukh P. (H.P.), who founded JHM Hotels in California. The business moved to Greenville and became Auro Hotels in 2017. 

As part of a hospitality industry family, Rama served as the chair of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) from 1997-1998. His brother H.P. served as the group's first chairman in 1991 with brother Manhar (M.P.) serving as chair in 2005.

He is remembered for his commitment to recruiting young hotel industry professionals from across the country to the group, according to a statement by current AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel: “America’s hotel owners are heartbroken to learn about the passing of an AAHOA icon. … He was known for being a staunch supporter of young people getting involved in AAHOA and the industry."

A philanthropist as well as a businessman, Rama was born in the village of Sarona, Gujarat State, India, and continued to give back to those in need there. With his brothers he founded the private Auro University in Surat, Gujarat. He also helped to build a school, water purification plant and homes for those in need in the family's home village. 

As residents of Greenville, he and his brothers established "The Rama Scholarship for the American Dream" with a $1,000,001 endowment.  The scholarship helps deserving U.S. students who are enrolled in hospitality school. 

Other Rama family scholarship programs assist the children of Greenville fire department and police personnel. 

Rama is survived by his wife, Ila; son Dharmendra (D.J.); daughter Rita; and brothers H.P., Manhar (M.P.); and Raman (R.P.). Another brother, Dinu P. Rama, preceded him in death. His service was held Feb. 22 in Surat, India.