27th August 2000
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  • Dharmasiri Senanayake
  • C.V. & Sheami Gooneratne
  • Marcus Joseph
  • K. Kailasanatha Kurukkal
  • Yesusagayam Edwin
  • Dr. Chryshanthie Nilmini Wijewarnasooriya
  • Mallika Abeysirigunewardena 
  • Dharmasiri Senanayake

    The sudden death of Dharmasiri Senanayake shocked us. 0nly a few weeks ago he was his normal, witty, ebullient, talkative and concerned self. As an ordinary citizen, Chairman of the Tourist Board, Member of Parliament and Minister, his approach to all those around him was the same. When he became Chairman of the Tourist Board he charmed us by saying that he knew nothing about the industry and would have to learn from those of us who were already engaged in it. He was an apt pupil and before long he had grasped the subject to be able to lead the industry with decisiveness.

    He lived very unosten-tatiously. Simplicity was the keynote of his lifestyle. When all the best hotels in Sri Lanka would have welcomed him, he preferred to stay at Barberyn Reef Hotel with his friend Sudana Rodrigo. He preferred the warmth of his old friends than the glamour and glitz of modern hotels. Dharmasiri was always accessible to people regardless of their position. He had this wonderful characteristic of recognizing people and making them feel at ease with a jovial word.

    He became known throughout the world, developing close friendships with industry leaders in international organisations and when his party lost in 1977, he stood by his political convictions although he was offered a post by the new administration and received many tempting offers from private businesses. He preferred to remain committed to the SLFP although he was aware there would be a long wait. In 1989 he became a Member of Parliament. As a Minister he was able to restore growth to tourism once again in 1999 and his appointment as Chairman to the World Tourism Organization was a fitting tribute to his devotion to this industry.

    All his official positions did not change his attitude to his friends and those around him. He was always considerate and protective. He appreciated that tourism was private sector driven and worked closely with us who were involved in the business. It is difficult to reconcile ourselves to this loss.

    Asker Moosajee

    C.V. & Sheami Gooneratne

    In Colombo or any other capital around the world, Ambassadors and Ministers encounter each other at ceremonies, meetings, negotiations, receptions, dinners, and sometimes even at cricket matches. Most of those relationships are professional, and official. 

    Occasionally, an Ambassador and a Minister, and sometimes their spouses, meet often enough or somehow 'click' to establish a personal friendship.

    Susan and I met Minister C.V.Gooneratne shortly after our arrival in Colombo in late 1997. As the Minister of Industrial Development, C.V. was responsible for several projects or potential projects with American investors. Given the large and growing U.S.- Sri Lanka trade, and various partnerships in the apparel sector, I spent many hours, indeed many days with C.V. at various ceremonies, seminars, and meetings. From sharing the first " Big Macs" at the McDonald's opening, to accompanying Prince Charles through a garment factory. From UNIDO seminars to church services and C.V.'s annual commemoration of his beloved father, from launching a new electronic garment visa system to debating a large phosphate project, I came to know C.V. Gooneratne as a good minister, a good politician, a good friend, and a very good man. He quickly became, I admit it, a personal favourite of Susan's and mine. 

    As we got to know and love C.V.we quickly came to know and love his dear wife Sheami. Sheami Gooneratne was always there at C.V.'s side - wonderfully warm, spontaneous, honest, and generous. We would often talk with Sheami and C.V. about our families and especially our children. Sheami was truly C.V's full partner in life - always there with him - as she was that fateful day in Ratmalana. 

    I recall her only weeks before at the annual commemoration of C.V's father, the familiar friendly presence keeping everything on track and attending to all the details. C.V. had many friends throughout the Colombo diplomatic corps and, around the world. Indeed, Susan and I would often meet C.V. and Sheami at the homes of other Ambassadors in Colombo. 

    I leave to those closest to C.V. and Sheami to place their full lives in context. I simply wish to add a modest international dimension to the appreciation of , and the mourning for, two very wonderful people. 

    May they rest in peace, May their dear children and other loved ones also find peace, comfort, and strength. May all their friends, Sri Lankans and others, celebrate their full and productive lives and carry on their legacy. 

    Even as diplomats spending only a few years on this beautiful island, my colleagues and I have suffered with all of Sri Lanka as we've seen so many good people, from all communities and all levels of society, from leaders like C.V. and Neelan to innocent bystanders, struck down without warning and without purpose. Sri Lankans obviously have a longer and more painful list of victims from this terrible cycle of ethnic hatred, violence, and terrorism. It must stop. It must stop now. C.V.,Sheami, and indeed Sri Lanka will be in our hearts and in our prayers as they will be in the hearts and prayers of Sri Lanka's many international friends. 

    Shaun Donnelly 
    Ambassador of the United States.

    Marcus Joseph

    Marcus Joseph, that dedicated journalist is no more. Death took him away early this month ending a life that was marked by his caring attitude to those around him. 

    Everyone at Wijeya Newspapers knew him as a gentle and energetic person. He was remarkably quiet, and uninterfering in the affairs of others, unless he could offer help. He was a sportsman, an avid promoter of sports and a fine writer, especially delighting in covering sporting events in his native Panadura. Cricket was his specialty.

    A devout Catholic, Marcus read with interest any articles on religious topics and would often pat me on the back, to say 'well done', when he read what I had written in the Catholic Messenger or any another paper. He was a dedicated social worker and would spotlight any shortcoming in his area.

    Marcus had his early education at St. Anthony's, Panadura, and in his youth, was an active sportsman. Having captained his college at cricket, he loved to cover cricketing events. He left his mark at his Alma Mater, in the annual big match with Holy Cross, scoring a mammoth 148. He continued his cricket after his college days with the Catamarans team, and later at the Kalutara United Cricket Club. 

    After retirement, he worked as a journalist in the now defunct 'Davasa' group and later joined 'The Sunday Times' and 'Lankadipa' after a stint in Saudi Arabia. His three decades as a gentleman of the Fourth Estate earned Marcus an award in journalism too. Our condolences go out to his beloved wife Swarna, and his three daughters. May the Good Lord grant Augustus Marcus Joseph rest eternal, that 'rest' which his patron saint St. Augustine, said, 'Is never ours, till we REST in HIM'. 
    Lenard R. Mahaarachchi 

    K. Kailasanatha Kurukkal

    A legendary academic figure Prof. Kailasanatha Kurukkal, professor in Hindu Civilization died on August 7. The last rites took place on August 8 in Victoria, Australia. 

    He obtained his doctorate in Sanskrit by presenting a thesis on 'A Study in Epic and Puranic Periods' in 1960. We have lost a great scholar who dedicated his life to the upliftment of the students in the Universities of Peradeniya and Jaffna. 

    He was to celebrate his 80th birthday on August 15. His career commenced in the Department of Sanskrit of the then University of Ceylon, Peradeniya. In 1974 he joined the newly established University of Jaffna. 

    His efforts paved the way for the establishment of the Department of Hindu Civilization in the University. He headed the Department until his retirement. He left many memories for generations of students who benefited from his skill and expertise. 

    I was fortunate to be a student under him during my undergraduate years at the University of Peradeniya. Prof. Kurukkal was instrumental in planning and taking steps to erect the Kunchi Kumaran Murugan Temple on the University premises in 1967/68. 

    He was the first Professor of Hindu Culture at the University of Jaffna and in recognition of his precious services, he received an 'Emeritus Professorship' and was conferred with a D. Litt. His demise is a loss to the Hindu society. He will be in our minds forever. 

    Vijayalakshmy Sivasanthiran.

    Yesusagayam Edwin

    The death of Y. Edwin not only caused much sorrow but also made his students reflect on the devoted and dedicated service he rendered to the Advanced Level Chemistry students for nearly a quarter of a century. He was the first from the Ceylon University to teach Chemistry at St. John's College, Jaffna. He joined the staff in 1953 and was soon appointed head of the Chemistry Department, a position he held till 1977 when he accepted a teaching appointment in Nigeria. 

    St. John's had made her mark as one of the leading schools from which many students gained university admission. Mr. Edwin was responsible for the Chemistry performance of his students both at the Ceylon University entrance and London Advanced Level examinations. 

    An unassuming, conscientious teacher he gave of his best. I was a colleague of his from 1953 till he left. We bachelor teachers had great fun, much fellowship and friendship. 

    In 1962 he married Ruth Padmani, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. C.J. Eliathamby who were also on the staff of St. John's. In 1977, he took up an appointment at the Government Secondary School, Dura, Kaduna State, Nigeria where he was also the 'guidance and counselling' master. The science exhibition that he organized, got first place for the school in the Dura Zone. In 1991 he moved to the Government Girls' Secondary School, Kasina State, Nigeria until 1994. Ruth also taught in these schools, but died in 1994. Mr. Edwin came back to Sri Lanka in 1994 and lived with his sisters and brother-in-law Dr. Jeyaseelan in Kandy. Later when his son Dr. Chandrahasan married he looked after his two-year- old grandson. 

    Many will miss his gentle ways. 

    V.R. Amarasingham 

    Dr. Chryshanthie Nilmini Wijewarnasooriya

    I met Nilmini for the first time when I was studying bio-science at Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya for the Advanced Level in 1980. Day-by-day we became closer and I came to admire her perseverance at her studies. She was a sincere, honest, genuine and down-to-earth person. 

    I can still remember us sharing the food that Nilmini's Ammah had prepared for her lunch. We went for tuition together too. 

    Nilmini, encouraged me to study hard. I was delighted to hear that she received the Ratnayake Memorial Shield for the best performance in science subjects at the 1982 G.C.E Advanced Level examination which made her the only student to enter the medical college on the first attempt from our class.

    After several years in America when I returned on vacation to Sri Lanka, my efforts to contact her turned out to be futile. It was later on that I learned through another close friend of her untimely death. 

    Sweet Nilmini, it is three years since you fell ill and made your journey to that beautiful shore. I was fortunate to have built up a close friendship with you. During your short stay of 31 years in this world, you were able to brighten many people's lives with your love, friendship and care. We have all lost a good friend, your parents an exemplary daughter and Sri Lanka a dedicated physician. 

    Sharon de Silva 

    Mallika Abeysirigunewardena

    The second death anniversary of my wife, Mallika Abeysirigune-wardena (nee Mallika Yapa Abeywardena) of Matale Road, Katugastota fell on August 23. To transfer merit to her a sanghika dana was offered to the monks at Sri Jethavanarama Vihara of Matale Road, Katugastota under the patronage of High Priest Sastrapathi Ven. Minipe Sri Dhammakiththi Nayake Thera of the Asgiriya Maha Vihara Chapter with the assistance of Ven. Watapane Dharmakirthi Thera. 

    Without her loving care and affection my life is very desolate. She was an English journalist and was the provincial correspondent for the now defunct 'Sun' and later the 'Times of Ceylon' and 'Daily Mirror'. She had her primary education at Vincent Girls' High School, Batticaloa during the time of Principal, G. Croft. Later she also attended Holy Family Convent, Kalutara, St. Thomas' Girls' School, Matale, St. Bernadette's College, Polgahawela during the period of the famous grammarian Principal, W.H. Sama-ranayake, St. Scholastica's Girls' College, Kandy, Christ Church College, Kurunegala and lastly St. Ursula's Convent, Badulla. She had to change schools because her father who was a stationmaster was transferred from time to time. During her school career she excelled in netball and athletics. 

    Mallika was a lady of many facets. Before coming to Katugastota, she resided at Pilimatalawa in Yatinuwara which was her home for nearly 43 years. There was nobody at Pilimatalawa who did not know her. The large number of people of all faiths and races who gathered to pay their last respects was a sign of her popularity. 

    Her cremation took place at the Mahaiyawa Crematorium on August 26. May she attain the Ama Maha Nivana - the Great Blissful Nirvana!

    Ealian Abeysirigunewardena

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