He embodied honesty, integrity and generosity
Dr. Felix Wickrema
Felix was a perfect gentleman and good brother to all of us. Calm, quiet, humble and kind-hearted, he was a respected specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology in Britain as well as in Sri Lanka. Above all he was the personification of honesty, integrity and generosity. He was a devout Catholic.

He was the fifth in a family of five boys and four girls, the fourth amongst the boys. Felix was a curly haired, roly poly fair kid and I was an impish, dark one. We used to walk arm in arm down to the Bambalapitiya beach and we were nicknamed "the Black and White whisky kids".

When we settled down permanently at "Uddagiri", Kandana, we began our school career at De Mazenod College. There he had a brilliant academic record, being the recipient of several awards at every College prize giving. He represented the College 1st eleven soccer team for about four years. At Medical College (Colombo), he continued to play soccer and was also a pretty good badminton player,

After he passed out as a doctor he served in several hospitals- Matara, Kalawana, Bibile, Badulla, Ragama and at the Castle Street Maternity Hospital in Colombo.

In the early 1970s, he left Sri Lanka to pursue his studies in obstetrics & gynaecology in Britain. During the years 1976 to 1979, I was fortunate to reside close to the the hospitals that he was serving at Forest Gate and at St. Andrews in East London. He established himself as an obstetrics & gynaecology specialist and resided at York. He meticulously constructed a hedge on either side of the drive-way. The front and backyards, had beds of roses and other flowers and a variety of fruit trees (apples, apricots, blackberries, raspberries, and gooseberries). It was a wonderful garden. His favourite hobby was reading and his home library had a variety of books (on medicine, fiction and non-fiction, science and technology and encyclopaedias). He was also skilful in the culinary arts.

He was unfortunate to suffer from an acute attack of coronary thrombosis. My brother, Percy and sister Vivienne, stayed in York with him and when he had partially recovered they brought him to Sri Lanka. Once he recovered, he decided to settle down at Dangolla, Peradeniya.

In mid-January 2005, he had a mild stroke and died on February 6, this year. We miss him very much. He was a good brother, friend and perfect gentleman.
Neil Wickrema

A host of saints await you
Anna Florence IMihindukulasuriya
In life you were so virtuous, so industrious, so meticulous and possessed of such phenomenal powers of organisation that we stand shocked and grief-stricken by your sudden demise.

While thanking God for giving us this rare opportunity of having been associated with such a beacon of light, we rest assured that you will receive a standing ovation from all the Saints in heaven to which home you richly deserve to be admitted.

In conclusion we pray that we may be able to emulate your sterling qualities and entreat you to be a source of consolation to us in our time of grief.

Ben Mihindukulasuriya & Children

He believed in the spirit of liberty
Peter Berenson
Peter Berenson died this year. He was 83 and he was also the founder of Amnesty International - the human rights movement that now has more than a million members in 150 countries. He was so modest a man that many Amnesty members had no idea that he had been its founder - and yet, his warmth and generosity of spirit gained him friends worldwide.

He was the grandson of a Russian banker. His father died when he was eight and Berenson was tutored by the poet W.H. Auden, then sent to Eton. While there, his idealism came to the fore. He organized support for the Spanish Republican Government during the Spanish civil war. Later, he raised £4000 from his college friends to rescue two Jewish children from Nazi Germany.

The idea for Amnesty was born in 1960, when, in a newspaper, he came upon a story of two Portuguese students who had been imprisoned for drinking to liberty in a Lisbon restaurant. He wrote an article which began: "Open your newspaper - any day of the week - and you will find a report from somewhere in the world of someone being imprisoned, tortured or executed because of his beliefs... The reader feels a sickening sense of impotence. Yet if these feelings of disgust all over the world could be united into common action, something effective could be done."

And this is what Berenson set about to do. The response to his newsletter was instantaneous and support flooded in. It marked the birth of Amnesty International. In one year, AI groups were formed in the UK, the Netherlands, West Germany, France and Switzerland. The AI logo - a candle surrounded by barbed wire was a symbol of hope around the world but growth came so fast that by the mid-1960s, funding could not keep pace with need and there were many internal divisions. Berenson was so exhausted that he resigned in 1966, but returned in the 1980s. He never stopped campaigning for a better world and AI has crossed swords with Sri Lanka on numerous occasions.

The organization is fearless, even reminding us of the savagery and torture that went on in this country and telling the world, in damning reports of the cancer that had begun to eat into this country as well.

Carl Muller

Optimist to the end
Rachel Velupillai
Rachel Velupillai or in simple, affectionate terms, 'Baba Akka' lived a full and contented life. She passed away recently outliving the psalmist's three score and ten.

Having nurtured six boys and four girls which in itself is a Herculean task, she saw to it that they remained a close knit family, all of whom are doing well in their chosen fields, both here and abroad.

Rachel, who married young, had to face many vicissitudes during her life time. Even in later years when illness and petty complications took hold of her, she fought relentlessly with cheerfulness and optimism. She never worried over illnesses but took things as they came, thinking only of the present and not of the morrow.

I knew her as her nephew first when she married my uncle, but I became her brother-in-law by marrying her youngest sister, Irene. From then onwards we became closer.

A day prior to her demise, she had inquired about me, but alas, the following day when I went to see her in hospital she had passed away.

J.I. Rosairo

Cheers! good friend
Brian Charles Gray
I write this with feelings of sadness that Brian is no more with us. I first came to know Brian around 1990 when I had the good fortune to meet him at Havelocks.

His numerous friends from all walks of life, be they be rich or poor, businessmen or the downtrodden, he treated alike. He was elected a Trustee of our club this year. He was one of the most regular members at the club for the past 20 years. He would come early to the club, sip a drink and welcome other members as they came in.

His wife Swarna who kept a strict eye on him would telephone the club between 7 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. informing him it was time to come home; lest he forget. Brian knew very little Sinhalese and when the telephone rang we used to say Ekai, Dekai, Thunai.

To me he was a good friend to whom I could go for any advice. I shall miss his familiar greeting as I entered the club "Evening Ravi". Goodbye Brian, may God bless you and grant you eternal rest till we meet again on that beautiful shore.

Ravi Mendis

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