This tribute is written to mark the fifth death anniversary of H. P. Gooneratne.
My first contact with Pushpa (Fred to his friends) was in 1965, when I joined Browns Group as chief security officer and he was chief engineer, Engineering Services Ltd, at Dias Place.
I well recall that first meeting, because I left his office with the sense that I had met a person of total sincerity, who lived according to the dictates of his conscience, his principles and his Buddhist upbringing.
We became close friends. It was Fred who guided me on the path to care for the less fortunate. He made me aware of the impermanence of life and how important it was to be conscious of this fact in our pursuit of material goals.
Fred was a devout Buddhist, and it was from this Buddhist standpoint that he initiated the HelpAge programme in Sri Lanka. In the early ’80s, during one of his many visits to London, he discussed with me what he had in mind with regard to assisting the less fortunate senior citizens of Sri Lanka. I encouraged Fred in his aspirations, and helped him proceed to make his dream a reality.
His initiative, drive and gentle persuasive ways brought him friends who rallied to support him in his noble objective of “Helping the Elderly”. It was Fred’s tireless efforts in those early days that helped put HelpAge at the forefront of programmes for caring for the elderly.
Fred valued family life, and demonstrated this in the love and affection he bestowed on his wife Manel and children Roshan, Nishantha and Ishani. He was both father and friend to his children, and he taught them at an early age, by example, how to be good human beings.
He was a keen student of astrology, interpreting the fate and fortune of people. Friends, including myself, treasured his counsel and advice. He was a source of strength and wisdom to many of us.
Fred was a good human being – a true gem – radiating love and affection to all those around him. He was also an exceptional family man, and a most reliable friend.
I have no doubt that, based on his meritorious acts, his wanderings in Samsara will be short and his path clear to attaining Nibbana.