ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday February 24, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 39

A Maristonian’s tribute to a noble man

Jayantha Fernando

Jayantha (Kithsiri) Fernando passed away after a long illness bravely borne, and was laid to rest on February 7 in the presence of many Maristonians, young and old. Jayantha studied at Maris Stella College, Negombo. He was one of the very few in his class to enter the University of Colombo, graduating in Physical Science. He worked for the C.W.E. and eventually reached the highest echelons of management. In later years he taught English at a leading Institute in Negombo.

Jayantha’s simplicity, amiable ways and sense of humour created for him a wide circle of friends. Quite naturally he was a popular choice for the Presidency of the parent body of the OBA of Maris Stella College in 2006 and 2007.

He led the OBA with dedication and commitment in 2006 and I recall how he assiduously followed up on prospective sponsorships for our annual dinner dance. It was a relentless pursuit until he got a positive response. Unfortunately, his second term in 2007 was dragged down by his debilitating illness.

He was a man of indomitable spirit. Despite the severity of his illness and the painful medication he was going through, he continued to direct the affairs of the OBA even from his sick – bed. The last time I met Jayantha was when he presided over our OBA Ex co meeting on May 25 2007. We adjourned for fellowship to the Lagoon View – Inn. I sat with Jayantha on the verandah of the Inn overlooking the Negombo Lagoon.

We talked of the moments of fun, joy and laughter we had shared for over 20 years at the various events that brought us Maristonians together. Charles Fernando – arguably the oldest living Maristonian – and Jayantha, backed by the guitar strumming of Gladstone Dias led us in our boisterous sessions of song and dance, spirited by the Waters of Scotland!! Jayantha’s lusty rendition of the perennial favourites of C.T. Fernando and Priya Suriyasena’s “Mage Lamada” will remain etched in our memories forever.

A warm hearted and gentle human being, Jayantha always appeared happy and contented. He seldom complained about the vagaries of life. Deep in his heart he could never overcome the trauma and sorrow of the tragic and untimely loss of his only son. But he reconciled himself to his destiny with a sense of stoic acceptance. He lived his life according to his college anthem. He was noble and gentle in all that he did. He was faithful and true to God and to neighbour. He faced life’s trials bravely. To Jayantha, “Life was nothing but an occasional burst of laughter rising above the interminable wail of grief”.

May his soul dwell amongst the righteous.

By Merrick Gooneratne, Past President OBA, Maris Stella College

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