June 17, 1959-May 8, 2020
Palo Alto, California
Raj Marphatia passed away from cancer in his home in Palo Alto, California on May 8, 2020. He was at peace with his illness and reached the end of his life lovingly surrounded by his daughters, Maya and Leena, and his partner, Carolyn. Family and friends around the world were present in spirit.
The beloved son of Chandrakala and Ravi Marphatia, Raj grew up in Bombay, India. At 17, he came to the United States on a Rotary scholarship. Raj landed as an exchange student in Iowa, where he fell in love with cheeseburgers, baseball, and all things American. He remained in the US, attended Harvard University on a full scholarship, and went on to earn a Masters in Accounting from Northeastern University and a JD from Harvard Law School. Raj became the first non-white president of the Harvard Law Review in 1987. In his 30 year career with the law firm Ropes & Gray, he earned widespread professional respect for his sage advice, attentive mentorship, and unfailing determination. Fiercely committed to his work, Raj helped to build the firm’s private funds practice into a national powerhouse. Though Raj was eternally humble about his accomplishments, they were numerous and outstanding - the results of an unparalleled work ethic and love for learning.
In his time at Harvard, Raj met Nalini Ambady, who went on to become his wife, a Stanford University professor, and a renowned expert in social psychology. Nalini was Raj’s equal (or in his words, superior) in her wit, scholarship, and adoration for her work. The pair had two daughters, upon whom Raj doted, never missing a soccer game or dance recital. Raising daughters as playful, brilliant, and compassionate as their parents, yet entirely unique in their passions, was one of the great joys of his life. The family’s love for each other has lasted through and beyond Nalini’s passing from leukemia in 2013. Years after Nalini’s death, Raj (a true romantic at heart) found the second love of his life in Carolyn Hayes. Their partnership was full of laughter, music, and mutual kindness.
Raj was a thoughtful and steadfast friend, devoted family member, and simply exceptional human being. Raj will be missed by his mother, Chandrakala Marphatia; daughters, Maya and Leena Ambady; father-in-law, Shanker Ambady; sister, Mona and her husband, Asit Khandwala; nieces, Anoushka and Nikita Khandwala; partner, Carolyn Hayes; and a warm global community of family, friends, and colleagues. Donations can be made at rajmarphatia.com to support the education initiatives of The Rotary Club of Bombay North.