Local Obituaries

Obituary: Business owner Mohinder Singh Rye, 78, was Indian community leader

Mohinder Singh Rye, a longtime Sacramento businessman who was a leader in the Indian community, died Sept. 10 after a stroke, his family said. He was 78.

Mr. Rye, who arrived in Sacramento from India at 14, was a pioneer who helped pave the way for other immigrants. His parents, Bishan and Kartar, were among the first Indians in California to leave farming in the Central Valley and move to the city.

They settled in the capital and owned the Lucky Hotel in Old Sacramento in the 1940s. As racial minorities in a new country, they reached out and formed connections with other nonwhite immigrants in America.

“The Mexican farm workers felt an affinity with them,” Mr. Rye’s son Sukhdev said. “A lot of the farm workers would come and give their paychecks to Bishan to just deduct what they ate and drank at the hotel. They had trust in them.”

After the hotel was seized by eminent domain to make way for construction of Interstate 5, the family owned and operated Greyhound Taxi in Sacramento for 30 years. Mr. Rye took the reins of the company, one of the two biggest cab operators in the capital, after his father died in 1964 until the business was sold in 1980.

Meanwhile, he acquired apartment buildings in midtown Sacramento and owned a couple of liquor stores. He sold the stores to cousins from India and sponsored relatives and many other immigrants from his native village. He was a longtime member of the Sacramento Sikh Temple in West Sacramento.

“Mohinder helped people get started in business in Sacramento,” said Archie Parker, his family’s longtime attorney. “He was very active in the community. He was just a great guy.”

Mr. Rye was born in Punjab, India, in 1936. He immigrated to California in 1950 to join his father, who had been admitted to the United States in the 1930s and had earned citizenship by serving in the Army during World War II.

Although he was admitted to dental school at UC San Francisco, he deferred to his father’s wishes and stayed in Sacramento to work in the family’s taxi business. Later, as a father himself, he broke with cultural traditions to send all three of his children to UC Berkeley on the way to professional careers as a dentist, lawyer and certified public accountant.

“It wasn’t accepted in the late ’70s that families sent their daughters off to school, but my sister was the eldest and she was No. 2 in her class at McClatchy (High School),” Sukhdev Rye said. “After she finished at (Sacramento) City College ... my dad was all in favor of her going to Berkeley for her education.”

In addition to his son Sukhdev, Mr. Rye is survived by his wife of 56 years, Narnjan; a daughter, Inderjit; a son, Surrinder; two brothers, Joginder and Noginder; and two grandchildren.

A visitation is set for 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Sacramento Memorial Lawn, 6100 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento. A funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Sacramento Memorial Lawn, followed by a church service from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Sacramento Sikh Temple, 2301 Evergreen Ave., West Sacramento.