Single-handedly he overcame challenges
Abey Ekanayake
A bolt of lightning could not have struck me any worse than when my friend Ana called me at the crack of dawn on Tuesday, December 20 to inform me that Abey had gone to his eternal rest, around 4 p.m. the previous day.
I first came to know Abey at a tender age when we were boarders at Trinity College, Kandy though in separate 'Houses', he in Alison and I in Ryde. It was a friendship that blossomed and lasted over fifty years. We both took to planting and served on estates close to one another, further strengthening our friendship.

In the late 1960s, we were among the pioneer members of the Lions' Club of Nuwara Eliya. Abey was its first president. He spearheaded several successful social development projects, where his leadership qualities and concern for the less fortunate segments of society were expressed in real terms.

Few of his peers will know that as a young schoolboy, Abey was a promising ruggerite who played as hooker for Alison House and would certainly have made it to the College 1st XV, if he had not lost an arm in a cycle accident.
At times I cannot help but feel that, this accident -- unfortunate though it was -- had a huge impact on his life. Quite naturally the stressful aspect of this tragedy bore heavily on Abey at the time, and he never failed to mention that it was the late Major Gordon Burrows, the then Vice Principal of Trinity, who had an overwhelming influence on his life from that point on to make him the man that he became. And what a splendid specimen of a man he turned out to be! That physical handicap was no problem to him for any matter that he set his mind on, he excelled in. When he took to planting, his spirit was such that he came out on top and proved to be a respected and well recognised manager and administrator.

In sports, I have seen Abey dive off the boards and enter the water as smoothly as a dolphin would and swim several lengths of the S.S.C. pool leaving aghast many who would be watching him. His forte was tennis where he excelled winning several tournaments that were held by clubs in the plantation districts in the bygone days.

Abey was a thinker, innovator, artist and agriculturalist — all moulded into one. Above all he was a loyal and sincere friend ever ready and willing to help.
I condole with Usha and his dear daughter Mano.
Farewell, my friend and may the turf lay lightly on you and your dear soul rest in peace.

Rajah M. E. Adhihetty

A cheerful personality and sincere friend
Mahinda Bowatte
'Piyehi Wippayogo Dukkho' a quotation from Sathipattana Sutta says the departure of loved ones from this world brings a great sorrow to their near and dear ones. Such a person was Mahinda who passed away after a brief illness on September 29 last year. He served at the St. Coombs, TRI, Talawakelle and at St. Joachim's, Ratnapura for nearly 37 years. He joined the plantation sector following in the footsteps of his father, the late U.B. Bowatte of Ukuwela, Matale.

At St. Anthony's College, Katugastota, Mahinda excelled in sports, especially cricket, which he continued at the TRI. At his TRI bungalow, he started the day, viewing the panoramic scene of the rising sun.

After taking an aromatic cup of TRI tea, he would adjourn to the prayer room and then trudge the winding path to attend to the ledgers and figures at the office of this internationally famed institution.

He spent his young days at the ancestral house of his mother, where his maternal uncle, the late A. Ratnayake, the former President of the Senate was born and bred. It was also in a special room of this house that the Anagarika Dharmapala took lodging whenever he was attending to the work of the Temperance Movement in the hill country or meeting Kandyan leaders like his maternal grandfather, late P.B. Ratnayake. This atmosphere undoubtedly would have helped mould his cheerful personality and character. He genuinely cared for his host of relatives and friends but not much for himself. He was lavishly hospitable.

He took a great interest in religious, sports and social service activities at the TRI. Thus he amassed a great wealth of friends. Dear Malli, our family chain is broken by your sudden demise. In this sansara this chain of ours should continue to link again and again till we reach the bliss of Nirvana.

Indra Akka

A doyen of local government unions
O.P. Premadasa
O.P. Premadasa, who was simple "OP" to his friends and colleagues, passed away in November last year. Premadasa was from Uluwitike, Galle and had his education at St. Aloysius College, where he was a bright student and an active participant in literary and oratorical activities, particularly in Sinhala.
He evinced socialist ideas even during his schooldays and gave expression to them in literary activities. Many admired his forward thinking ability.

On leaving school, he joined the Local Government Clerical Service and his first appointment was to the Kotte Urban Council. The Local Government Service unified in 1946 was then in a fledgling state and lacked many benefits and facilities when compared to parallel grades in the government.

Young and exuberant, 'OP' played a seminal role in the formation of the Local Government Clerical Service Union along with the likes of D. R. Sendanayake. He fought against the inequalities that existed in the service to the then functioning Local Government Service Commission (LGSC) and gradually made the service an enviable one. Their union remained the flagship of the service and offered resistance to the arbitrary role played by the then LGSC.

Premadasa was quite uptodate with rules and regulations governing the Local Government Service and appeared in defence of officers involved in departmental inquiries, bringing relief to many.

He progressed in the service gaining promotions and at the time of retirement was in the Administrative Grade attached to the Colombo Municipal Council.
In retirement, he served in several social organizations, promoting cultural and Buddhist activities in his village and was appointed a Justice of Peace (All Island) in appreciation of these services.

His friends and relatives adored him for his humane qualities for he was with them in sorrow and happiness. Clad in his distinct garb of white cloth and banian, he often enlivened social occasions with speeches spiced with wit and humour.

He was a devoted husband to his beloved wife and caring father to his children.

Premadasa will live in the hearts of his friends and relatives for ever.

May he attain Nibbana!
U. Wirasinha

Precious daughter
Pramila Ranasingha
You were my beautiful daughter
Sweet and serene,
The cruel hand of death
Snatched you away from me,
On December 30th
That dreadful morn
I brought you up with much love and care
That beautiful rose of mine
But now you left me
To bloom in a better place elsewhere.

I see your beautiful face around me
In pictures hung on walls
Every time you seem to say
Mum I'm with you there
The beautiful winds that blow,
The fragrance of the flowers
Tell her how much I miss her
And give her all my love,

Freeda Fernando

He lived up to the full meaning of his name
Viswa Weerasooria
Born the eldest of four boys and a girl to N.E. Weerasooria, a leading civil lawyer, King’s Counsel, historian, author, Chairman and Director of leading public and private sector organisations, and to the gracious, Kathleen Weerasinghe, he was named Viswamithra Ananda.

The first was the name of the tutor of the Gauthama and meant intelligent and friendly whilst the other meant happiness. He lived up to both.
For their early education he and his brother Norman were enrolled to Ananda College where they hardly lasted three months. A former headmaster told me later that he had to summon their father, and very reluctantly tell him that his two sons were too good for the institution and whether he could place them elsewhere. He then shifted them to the Royal Preparatory School.

Viswa, in no time, became the leader of a group which included Homa Weerasuriya, L.R. (Ranjit) Jayawardene, Palitha Wijesekera, Buveneka De Silva, Ranjit (Bundy) De Silva, late Kingsley Perera and late Raja Weerasinghe (Air Ceylon) my first cousin. This was when I met him and began to associate with him although his brother Sarath was my class mate.

Viswa loved outdoor life, jungles and villages. Long before the Colombo elite had even heard of these places, Viswa and his "gang" in their teens were frequent visitors. More often, the trips ended with Viswa's car lying upside down somewhere on the wayside.

His working life was launched with the Autodrome where his father was a director. They could not hold him long. He then started a finance company with his brother and some friends. He, his brother and some others then started Finco Group of Companies where he served till the end as a director. His brothers gave him transport, his greatest love.

As a great lover of vehicles he did a great job. But here too with his large heart the vehicles were distributed to those in want. He made it a point to visit needy relatives and friends and help them. I recall during the curfew days he visited his retired teachers with dry rations and all other goodies. He even saw a former teacher installed in an affluent retirement home. He had a retinue of help, drivers, cars etc. he provided for them all. He bought late Sir John's ‘1 Sri 1’ Cadillac, repaired it and presented it to the Kotelawala Defence Academy.

He married on the leap year day. When questioned why, he joked "Sammie, anything can happen infour years, further, you don't have to be reminded annually". His greatest happiness was when Tania was born. She lived up to expectations, and after a brilliant career at Ladies College, she proceeded to US and did her first degree and MBA. She was besides him, right to the end...
I can vouch for his intelligence. We were on the board of a group of companies where most of the directors were highly qualified.

When a complicated matter came up, Viswa sat silently and at the end came out with perfect solutions. He had a host of friends from all walks of life. When someone turned to him with a problem, he left no stone unturned to solve it.
He was ailing for some time and all his retinue was there round the clock tending to his needs. On his last day at home whilst the others slept round him, his good friends Victor Wijeratne, Pali Ratnayake and I kept vigil besides him. The large crowds at home and the cemetery bore testimony to his greatness, generosity and simplicity. May you attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

Susantha Samaranayake (Sam)

Loved by all
A.B. Nugapitiya
Never late for office, devoted to service and duty first.
Understanding the problems of the ratepayer, utmost you did to overcome them.

Gentle, generous and a good sportsman you were.
Adored for all the good deeds.
Patience in all endeavours.

Is it not a blow to your loving family?
Tender hearted and loved by all kith and kin.
Impermanence of all component things we realise.

You did a yeoman's service to the people of Batticaloa and Trincomalee as Commissioner. "Alas, you left us but shall meet you once again in this ocean of Sansara!"

Wife and children

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