Rodney Clement Austen Vandergert died on May 4, 2009. The lawyer-diplomat joined the Sri Lanka Foreign Service in 1961, and during his long and illustrious career served as assistant secretary and deputy director in various divisions of the Ministry of Defence and External Affairs.
He also served in various capacities in Sri Lankan missions overseas.I came in contact with R. C. A. Vandergert in the late ’70s, when he was legal advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was a pleasure to work under him. He was a very humane person and a gentleman par excellence.
He left us in 1980 when he was appointed High Commissioner to Canada. On his return, after a successful tour of duty, he took up various senior positions in the Foreign Ministry, such as Director, United Nations and Multi-Lateral Affairs Division, and Director-General Political Affairs, and so on.
In 1994 he was made Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was only the second career diplomat to become the Permanent Secretary to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
He always looked placid and relaxed, even in the most problematic situations. His unfailing friendliness, courtesy and patience won the hearts of all who worked with him. I never saw him angry and I never heard him speak in an aggressive tone.
His face was always lit with a smile. He was a devout Catholic who preached what he practised, discharged his duties without fear or favour, and harboured no ill-will. His honesty and integrity, devotion to duty and humility earned the respect of all who came in contact with him.
May he rest in peace!