he overcame challenges
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
M. E. Adhihetty
cheerful personality and sincere friend
'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
doyen of local government unions
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
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.
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.
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.
progressed in the service gaining promotions and at the time of
retirement was in the Administrative Grade attached to the Colombo
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.
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.
was a devoted husband to his beloved wife and caring father to his
will live in the hearts of his friends and relatives for ever.
he attain Nibbana!
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.
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,
lived up to the full meaning of his name
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Never late for office, devoted to service and duty first.
Understanding the problems of the ratepayer, utmost you did to overcome
generous and a good sportsman you were.
Adored for all the good deeds.
Patience in all endeavours.
it not a blow to your loving family?
Tender hearted and loved by all kith and kin.
Impermanence of all component things we realise.
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!"