Suman Gera regularly watches a video of her late son Richie Gera sailing. Seeing him engage in a favorite pastime brings her some comfort, as does releasing flowers into the Chattahoochee River on his birthday. This past July marked three years since Richie died in a car accident. Now, Suman is channeling her grief into a tangible honor of his memory.
Suman, along with former husband Lakhmi Gera, have endowed the Arvin “Richie” Gera Memorial Scholarship, open to undergraduate students at Georgia State’s Robinson College of Business: the alma mater Suman and Richie share. Suman completed her B.B.A. in accounting in 1982, spending four decades as a commercial real estate investment manager. The highlight of her career involved the repositioning, redevelopment, and disposition of San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid Center. Lakhmi worked as an electrical design engineer and dedicated more than half of his 40-year career to Georgia Power Company.
Richie graduated in 2013 with a B.B.A. in finance. He passed away in 2020, only 13 days shy of turning 36, and within the same week of wrapping up his MBA coursework at Emory University. At the graduation ceremony, his younger brother Shawn accepted the degree on his behalf. Both of Suman’s sons followed in her professional footsteps. Richie was an asset management analyst at Jamestown, and Shawn currently serves as a senior associate in portfolio management for Invesco.
“A couple of semesters before Richie graduated from Robinson, he said, ‘I did the right thing,’” Suman recalled. “He said earning a business degree was the smartest move he’d ever made.”
Richie was a Renaissance man. While enrolled in college, he achieved master stylist status and worked at DASS Salon and Spa. He also volunteered at and financially supported the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency. In addition to sailing, Richie had myriad interests including snowboarding, motorcycling, exotic cars, and gardening. He loved to socialize as well, so much so that a group of his friends have lunch with Suman every August 9 to celebrate his birthday.
“He shared his talents with and helped his friends,” she said. “That’s why most of them still reach out to me.”
Suman is a lifetime member of the Georgia State Alumni Association and currently sits on its board of directors. Through the scholarship she and Lakhmi endowed, one student will receive $1,000 each year. Applicants must be pursuing an undergraduate business major and be in good academic standing.
“Like his father, Richie was an enormous advocate for higher education. It feels good to donate to Robinson, where the money will be meaningful to students,” Suman said. “Hopefully Richie’s spirit will appreciate it.”