Hasmita Patel, left, and her husband, former AAHOA Chairman and Atlanta hotelier Mukesh “Mike” Patel, right, and daughter Ayesha, center right, with former first lady Hilary Clinton. Hasmita passed away last week at the age of 61.

THOUSANDS of mourners bid an emotional farewell to Hasmita Patel, who passed away peacefully last week on Aug.6 with her family by her side.

Hasmita, 61, was the wife of the prominent Atlanta based hotelier and former chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association Mike Patel.

During a poignant and moving funeral ceremony in Atlanta on Aug.10 watched virtually by thousands of friends and relatives around the world, her husband Mike said, ‘every day, life was like a smile with her, especially in the final weeks.”

“Life was like a smile with her,” Mike Patel said of his wife at her funeral last week. “Hasmita was my backbone, it was because of her I was able serve and help others.”

Born in Kampala, Uganda, Hasmita moved with her family to London in 1970 where she was educated and eventually worked in the British Civil Service and various other posts. Mike and Hasmita met during  Navratri, the nine day Hindu dance festival in 1981 and they married in 1984.

Soon after the marriage they moved to the U.S. and eventually Atlanta where they founded a business developing hotels, real estate and banking. They have two children, daughter Ayesha and son Rishi. Mike was AAHOA chairman from 1998 to 1999.

Mike Patel and Hasmita met in 1981 at various social events. They were married in 1984.

“One person told me that whenever you went to her house whenever you went to see her, the first thing she did is she asked you how you were. Next thing she did is say please have a seat and let me serve you,” Prabhu HG Vedasara Das, co-president of Iskcon Atlanta Temple, said at the funeral service.  “This is not a material quality, this is a spiritual attribute, to always operate from the heart. Hasmita Patel always operated from the heart.”

Mike Patel is a prominent member of the Indian community in the US, having served as a Commissioner on President Clinton’s White House Initiative for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during his presidency. Mike also accompanied President Clinton on his visit to India in 2001.

“Hasmita was my backbone, it was because of her I was able serve and help others” said Mike. “She supported me, encouraged me. When I got angry with people or chastised them, she used to say give everyone a second chance, give anyone a third chance. She taught me to put myself in the other person’s shoes.”

Rishi recalled a saying that fit his mother: where many people see the brick, she would see the wall.

“I think that’s a very important aspect of how she lived her life, she would look at the bigger picture,” he said. And obviously family was everything for her. And I’m very sad to see her go when I know that what she left behind.”

Daughter Ayesha said her mother taught her compassion by example.

“She was the most compassionate person I have ever known. My mom embodied this understanding of compassion. She was the most thoughtful, kind, and selfless soul.’

Mike also is a co-founder of the Fair Franchising Initiative, a group of more than 300 hotel owners created in March to give voice to franchisee concerns over the treatment of small business branded hotels

*Asian Media Group and the Solanki family express their sincere condolences at the sad demise of Hasmita Patel.  ‘Mike and Hasmita were close family friends for over three decades and were instrumental in helping to establish our base in Atlanta, Georgia, from where we publish the U.S. edition of Garavi Gujarat and Asian Hospitality. Hasmita was a pious, selfless soul who touched many lives with her abundant generosity and love. She helped many hundreds of people and we feel privileged to have known such a noble soul. We are all deeply saddened by this tragic loss,’ the family said.