Plus - Appreciations

Pharmaceutical pioneer was a visionary

Douglas de Silva

Douglas de Silva, who joined the Lord on March 25, 2009, lived a quiet life, shunning publicity and ostentation. He asked for a private cremation, without the elaborate funeral arrangements usually associated with people of his standing.

God gave Mr. de Silva the gift of a dear wife, Fedelia, who was a tower of strength to him for more than 50 years. And he would often say that his wealth was his two wonderful sons, Dilhan and Harin.
This writer was associated with Mr. de Silva for close on 50 years.

Douglas de Silva was the first Sri Lankan to venture into pharmaceutical manufacturing. At the time, this industry was the exclusive reserve of such foreign pharmaceutical giants as Glaxo and Pfizer.

It was necessary at the time to get government approval to set up the manufacturing facility. The discouragement and scorn he received from the authorities did not deter him from pursuing his goal. He obtained assistance from a UK company and established Unical Ceylon Ltd, which stands as a monument to his dedication and determination. He proved to the government and the medical world that quality pharmaceutical products could be manufactured in Sri Lanka.

Mr. de Silva was hailed as a pioneer, and although he was urged to take a leadership role in the industry, he preferred to work behind the scenes, avoiding the limelight of publicity. Industry giants would often seek his counsel, whenever the industry faced difficulties because of changes in government policies.

Douglas de Silva was a visionary, a leader, and above all a humane person. He valued human relationships. He had no enemies. He gave employment to young men from various backgrounds, some of whom have gone on to hold high positions in the pharmaceutical industry and other disciplines.

Mr. de Silva had rare qualities. He was a true friend to all those who came in contact with him. His humaneness and integrity will be the guiding factor in the lives of the younger generation he has left behind.

There was another aspect to Mr. de Silva, and that was his love of golf, a love he inherited from his father, who was Sri Lanka’s (then Ceylon) first golf champion.

Often, we would walk into his office to find him swinging an imaginary golf club at an imaginary golf ball. He would listen closely, discussing intricate business matters, without taking his eyes off that imaginary ball. That was how unique Mr. de Silva was.

He lived the life of a true Christian. He was active in the church where he worshipped. At his funeral service, the Rev. Duleep Fernando gave us an insight into Douglas de Silva’s Christian belief.

Mr. de Silva has left an indelible impression on the lives of many of us who seek to emulate him. We are grateful that he came into our lives. His life’s purpose was fulfilled through the commitment and sincerity he showed all his life.

Thank you, beloved Mr. de Silva, for touching our lives. We shall always love you.
Till we meet again.

An admiring friend

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