Manhar P. “M.P.” Rama, who co-founded the Greenville-based brand that would become Auro Hotels, has died at 74.

Rama was a founding member of JHM Hotels, the predecessor of Auro Hotels.

“Rama’s vision, dedication, and leadership have been instrumental in shaping the success and growth of our organization,” the company said in a statement.

Rama was born in Africa and raised in India, according to the statement. He completed high school in Gurukul Supa, Navsari, and graduated with distinction from M.S. University of Baroda with a degree in civil engineering. In 1973, he came to the United States and attended California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, Calif., where he earned a master’s degree in engineering. Following his graduation, he worked with the city of Pomona.

Rama later entered the hotel business with his brothers, as a co-founder of JHM Hotels, which subsequently became Auro Hotels, according to the statement. “His contributions to the hospitality industry have been vast and impactful,” the statement reads.

Throughout his life, Rama was very involved in his community and various organizations, according to the statement. He served as president of the Vedic Center of Greenville, and was an active member of the Advisory Council of Marriott and the board of directors at the University of Central Florida Foundation. Rama served in various roles at AAHOA, including chairman of the Ethics and Enforcement Committee, director at large and chairman of AAHOA in 2005. He served on the advisory council of Hampton Inn by Hilton, the board of directors of the Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the board of directors of the South Carolina Hospitality Association.

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In recognition of his entrepreneurial success, Rama was awarded the “Entrepreneur Success Award” by the U.S. Small Business Administration in 1995, according to the statement. He was also the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Mahatma Gandhi Diversity Breakfast held in Orlando, Florida.

Rama’s life was marked by a love for his family and community. He leaves behind his wife, Surekha, and children, Sima and Vinay Rama. He is also survived by his two brothers, Hasmukh P. Rama and Raman P. Rama, and his sisters, Madhu Vivek, Hansa Deva, Pushpa Lala, and Pravina Thakor.

“In the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, we learn that life is a journey of the soul, and my brother, M.P., lived this journey with unwavering devotion, love, and integrity. His contributions to our family and the hospitality industry are immeasurable,” H.P. Rama said in the statement. “We will honor his memory by continuing to embody the values he held dear. M.P.’s spirit will remain a guiding light for all of us.”

With additional offices in Atlanta and Surat, Auro Hotels has developed, ownedand operated 110 hotels over the last 50 years, according to its website. The company currently owns 37 hotels and operates over 6,500 guestrooms, located in the United States and India, under brands such as Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt. Auro Hotels was the first franchise operator of Marriott Hotels in the Asia Pacific.

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