Plus - Appreciations

Engineering mathematics professor, a great mentor and lifelong inspiration

Prof .E. F. Bartholomeusz

Professor E. F. Bartholomeusz, Founder Professor of Engineering Mathematics at the University of Peradeniya, passed away on October 22 in Phoenix, Arizona, in the US. He was one of the most respected academics at the University of Peradeniya, and was a great teacher, much loved by all of his students. He touched the lives of everyone he encountered all over the world. He will be deeply missed.
Everard Frederick Bartholomeusz was born on December 30 1920. After his secondary education at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, he followed the London University External degree courses and obtained a BSc (mathematics special) degree with First Class Honours in 1942.

Later he obtained an MSc (mathematics) degree from the same university. In 1950, he joined the newly established Faculty of Engineering, University of Ceylon, as an Assistant Lecturer, and in 1952 he proceeded to the UK to do research at the University of Cambridge.

In Cambridge, he worked in the famous Cavendish Laboratory, associating with top researchers, such as G. I. Taylor. His research was on surface waves, dealing with reflection of long waves at a step, the reflection of plane waves at a submerged barrier, and the general motion of a fluid in a damping medium under gravity.

He obtained his PhD in 1955, and his seminal paper, “Reflection of Long Waves at a Step”, was published in 1958 in the Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society and referenced in the Encyclopaedia of Physics.

In 1955, he married Edith in Cambridge and returned to Sri Lanka to become a Senior Lecturer attached to the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Peradeniya (then University of Ceylon) and was in-charge of teaching Engineering Mathematics.

He was appointed Professor and Head of the newly created Department of Engineering Mathematics in 1965. He held these two posts till 1974, when he left the University of Peradeniya to become Professor and Head of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Zambia. He spent 16 years in Zambia before moving to the US.

When the Department of Engineering Mathematics was created in 1965, it had only two cadre positions; a professorship and an assistant lectureship. So the only tenured member in the Department was Prof. Bartholomeusz, and he had to develop the new department single-handed. This he did admirably with great care, foresight and dedication.

Professor Bartholomeusz was one of the most respected and admired teachers of the faculty. He was a master in the classroom and he had the ability to retain the attention of all his students on any lecture topic, however complex or abstract. It was a pleasure to listen to his fluent and precise delivery style and the students knew what note to take down because they were carefully dictated or neatly written on the blackboard, in the form of Chapter 1, Section 1, Sub Section 1.1 etc.

He always related mathematics to engineering, and used examples from engineering practice to illustrate the application of mathematical methods. He would teach a very powerful method of analysis and say that applying it to solve a simple problem where simpler methods are available is “like using a battle axe to crack an egg”. Disturbing him in class was considered a cardinal sin. Many of his students, including myself, consider him the best teacher they ever had.

While handling a very heavy undergraduate teaching load in his department, he continuously updated the syllabi with the most current topics, and also conducted postgraduate courses for his junior staff. One of his favourite postgraduate courses, which I had the good fortune to follow, was on the Mathematical Theory of Elasticity.

In addition to his academic contribution to the Faculty, he also contributed immensely to its welfare. One of his most noteworthy contributions was the setting up of the Faculty Canteen. He was the driving force behind it and he played a pivotal role in formulating its management structure and extending its services to provide quality food as well as stationery and drawing instruments at low prices. Thanks to his efforts, the Engineering Faculty Canteen is the best run and maintained canteen in the Peradeniya University today.

Prof. Bartholomeusz had an excellent rapport with students and he considered it very important for a teacher. He had a well balanced view of the things happening in the university and in the world, and his advice was often sought by students, staff and administration, to tackle tricky situations.

In appreciation of his long, dedicated and outstanding service to the Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya, the Peradeniya Engineering Faculty Alumni Association (PEFAA) felicitated him in 2007.
He leaves behind Edith, his loving wife of 56 years, and his sons Brian, Geoffrey and Michael. All three sons have PhDs and work in the US. Professor Bartholomeusz would have been 91 this year.

“Few like them for all the time
All like them for a few time.
Rarely comes the category
All like them for all the time.”
Professor Bartholomeusz was one of the rare people who falls into the last category. May he rest in peace.

Prof. Munidasa P. Ranaweera

Unforgettable, that’s what you are

Olga Crake

“Those were the days”, Mummy/Nana we looked forward to being together to have “wonderful days and beautiful moments”.

Your loving care and patience towards everyone, be it family or outsiders is “unforgettable”.
The “very thought of you” gives us the consolation that you have been a tower of strength to the family in “your (“my) way”.

“Every step you take, every move you make”, we know that you are there with us. Last but not least we can say “we thank our God each time we think of you and when we pray for you we pray with joy”.

Remembered with fondest memories and love by your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and in-laws

You left a lasting impression on all of us

Mervyn Mendis

To my Mallie- with love. To live in the hearts of those you love; is surely not to die!

A happy carefree childhood at ‘Fern Hurst’ and then ‘Shalimar’ followed by your marriage to Ranji- a perfect union which lasted 50 golden years and blessed with caring children and grandchildren-- these are some of the beautiful memories we will cherish in our hearts forever.

Mallie you were one of a kind, a simple unassuming person with a keen sense of humour who left a lasting impression on all who came in contact with you. With your gentle smile, patient ‘listening ear’ and sound advice you brought much relief to many a desperate soul. God’s gift to you you used freely in love and service. I recall the singsongs when the family met, your voice would sing out deep loud and clear bringing life into the songs. Remember “Mage as deka dilisena bonikka?”

Life moves on and as the inevitable call comes we must go- there’s no holding back. God knew what was best for you, when He released your weary body from pain and suffering to be with Him.
Ranji and the children, your pride and joy will miss you no doubt when they see your vacant chair and yearn for a voice that is still.

So long dearest mallie, it’s not goodbye. May your soul find peace and comfort in God’s inner presence.
Fondest Love

Rene Akka

He lived by his truism: “Life is short, you must pack many things into it”

Sidat Sri Nandalochana

Sidat was a legendary figure of our times. An old world gentleman, a dying breed has lost one more of their members. A few anecdotes, some personal would suffice to illustrate the life of this multi-faceted personality, and great human being.

I first met Sidat at a cricket match when I was a law student. At that time Sidat was playing for “E.R.S.R. Coomarasamy’s” cricket team which had an annual encounter with the Law College. An LBW decision off my bowling had Sidat out. There was a party for the teams in Mr. Coomarasamy’s house after the event. Sidat invited me to join his cricket team “casuals” and play in the Daily News Trophy matches. We went all over the country for this trophy as members of the “casuals" and we became close friends. He always said, “life is a short thing, you must pack in many things into this life". Indeed, he kept his word and did many things in his life.

As a sportsman, he was a member of the Thomian cricket team under Conrad Barrow that defeated Royal in the big match at the Oval. He excelled as an athlete and his pet event was the hurdles. He was also a boxer and a tennis player. He played in the Law-Medical-Cricket match. He was one of the few Sri Lankans to see Ray Lindwall bowl in a test match. He used to recommend the book written by Ray Lindwall on “How to be a fast bowler” to young cricketers. At Law College he won the Hector Jayawardene Gold medal for oratory.

He had an abiding interest in the theatre. He was trained by Jubal, the great producer and took part in the famous “Insect Play.” He played the role of the Baron in Ibsen’s Wild Duck. He wanted to produce a play himself and he produced Eva Ranaweera’s “Attaka Mal Paravegiya,” which ran to packed houses at the YMBA. As a member of the YMBA he organized the drama contest for schools based on Jathaka Stories from the previous lives of the Buddha. This event gave a big impetus to rural schools that produced plays. He once said, “unless you do “Hamlet” you cannot be a great actor/producer.” He mentioned the names of Lawrence Olivier, Peter O’ Toole, Richard Burton and Richard Harris as those who have done Hamlet during their time. He himself staged Hamlet in parts, in Sinhala to prove his point.

He had an interest in horse racing and was an avid punter. He knew much about horses, their breeding and form. He wanted to see the Darby and went to UK for this event. He had a desire to own a race horse. He owned one and his horse won an event. He said“a horse can make you a fool. “ He had a good knowledge of stocks and shares. He knew what to buy, when to buy and when to sell.

In his political life he was involved in left wing politics with his friend, the late Sarath Muttetuwegama. He joined the SLFP and was the president of the SLFP Lawyers’ Association for quite some time, during President Premadasa’s regime. During this period he organized the party’s legal affairs, appearing all over the island for partymen harassed by that regime. He was a member of the team that handled the election petition against President Premadasa for almost four years. He could have been a President’s Counsel had he applied for it but he preferred not to.

As a lawyer he appeared in many criminal cases at an early stage and won praise for his role in the Dodampe Mudalali’s case. He produced in court a wanted communist activist, without the police being able to capture him. He gradually left the criminal bar and appeared mainly in the Labour Tribunals and Industrial courts and was retained by many legal firms to appear for their clients.

He travelled widely to countries that he was interested in. In India, the country that he loved very much he visited the Buddhist holy places and the Sai Baba Ashram. On another occasion we travelled together in a train for five days from Tashkent to Sofia in Bulgaria to be present at the Youth Festival.
He was keenly interested in meditation and came under the supervision of Goenka, the Indian meditation Guru. He served on the Help-Age Board and gave much time and energy to charities.

He led a simple life. He did not want big cars, luxury houses or high office. He moved freely with those at the top but was always accessible to everybody, who wished to meet him. He did not miss a sea bath at the Kinross, tennis at the Otters and loved to dine at the Capri. He had a good knowledge of astrology and read much about Ayurveda. He kept himself fit and in perfect health. He helped people in distress and comforted those in difficult times.

He loved his nephews and nieces and was proud when they were achievers. His extended family were his close friends and their families. To the children “uncle Sidat” was an advisor and friend. He had them in fits of laughter with his wit.

His journey in Sansara is not over. A new chapter has begun after his demise. He used to say, “In a play the curtain call comes at a given time, but in life it can come at any time.” A life full of fulfilment has ended leaving pleasant memories to those who shared it.

S.S. Sahabandu

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