ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 23, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 43

Sir Arthur laid to rest without frills

By Madhushala Senaratne

The funeral of science fiction guru, futurist and inventor, Sir Arthur C. Clarke was held at the General Cemetery in Colombo last evening. He was laid to rest at the burial plot owned by the Ekanayake family, regarded as his adopted family in Sri Lanka, as it was requested by Sir Arthur himself in a signed letter left with his family and staff in mid 2007.

His body was carried from his home in Barnes Place to the Borella Cemetery where youth clad in white lined the path to the burial plot. Several hundreds of friends, fans and admirers, both young and old, gathered to pay their last respects to Sri Lanka’s most famous foreigner. Sir Arthur’s younger brother, Fred and sister, Mary, both residing in England, arrived in the country last week to attend the funeral of their brother who died at the age of 90.

Among those who attended the funeral were JVP Parliamentary Group Leader Wimal Weerawansa, Science and Technology Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana, Prof. Carlo Fonseka, Prof. K. K. Y. W. Perera, Edwin Ariyadasa as well as Buddhist monks and Catholic priests. A close friend, Tamara Ekanayake, daughter of Hector and Valerie Ekanayake with whom Sir Arthur shared his house in Colombo, recollected the fond memories she shared with him. Mentioning an epitaph she said, “Here lies Arthur C. Clarke. He never grew up but didn’t stop growing”.

In keeping with Sir Arthur’s wishes, the funeral was on a low key and secular, sans speeches. “Sir Arthur's family deeply appreciates the very large number of condolence messages coming in from all over the world. These indicate the enormous respect and affection Sir Arthur inspired in so many people,” his spokesman Nalaka Gunawardene said.

Electronic media observed a minute’s silence at 3.30 p.m. yesterday in honour of Sir Arthur who died from respiratory complications at Colombo's Apollo Hospital last Wednesday. He was also suffering from the Post Polio Syndrome since the early 1990s, which confined him to a wheelchair for the past decade.

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