ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 16, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 29

His was a life of love and concern

Emil Balasuriya

'Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.' Emil kept his tryst with Christ and was called to the nearer presence of the Lord on July 2 with Riolene and children standing right round his bed. He would have been a septuagenarian on July 20, had he lived.

He was a doyen in the airline business starting his career with Air Ceylon. He was one among the six selected by the late J.R. Jayewardene who was the Minister of Aviation at that time to launch Air Lanka. He had a meteoric rise from a cub trainee airline recruit to the position of General Manager at the time of retirement.

He was trained in British Airways and other prestigious airlines covering a wide gamut in the airline business. He served as manager representing Air Ceylon in Italy and Bangkok and representing Air Lanka as manager in Japan and London. He was much sought after for his know-how and expertise to solve knotty problems in the airline business.

Emil was an absolute martinet. He was a fearless, outspoken administrator who stood for fairplay. He hated injustice and refused to compromise with it. There was no ambivalence or hypocrisy in him. He always called a spade a spade. His services were recognised when he was feted at a grand banquet a few months before he passed away.

Emil had a genial temperament. His honesty and integrity, his modesty and sober habits, his concern, compassion and generosity to anyone in need, his consideration for all, his hospitality which knew no bounds -- these were some of his attributes. I had known Emil for well over four decades and have yet to come across such a stupendous personality, so outspoken and so independent in thought.

He always kept up the good name of his alma mater St. Aloysius College, Galle, being a brilliant student in his time. Emil was in the college choir being blessed with a melodious voice and whenever we met -- Emil, Denzil and myself -- we delighted in harmonizing both Sinhala and English songs. His death has left a void and robbed us of a genuine friend.

Emil's magnanimous nature was richly rewarded by having a loving wife for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Riolene nursed him devotedly giving him relief from pain and discomfort caused by ill health. He leaves his wife, two endearing daughters, two loving sons and son-in law and two lovable grandchildren. May his family find strength and solace in his memory for his was a life of love and concern.

By Lylie Peiris

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