Planting and Trinity were his passions Derrick Talwatte Appuchi left his earthly home a year ago to be in eternal peace and bliss with our Heavenly Father. Appuchi wasn’t a complicated man, yet he was fiercely passionate about a few things in life which he valued with all his heart. It’s been his faith and [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka



Planting and Trinity were his passions
Derrick Talwatte
Appuchi left his earthly home a year ago to be in eternal peace and bliss with our Heavenly Father. Appuchi wasn’t a complicated man, yet he was fiercely passionate about a few things in life which he valued with all his heart. It’s been his faith and love of God and the grace thereby that kept him going all those years, shielding him from harm during the insurgency uprisings in the tea estates in the late 80s to the miraculous recovery after his numerous heart attacks when the medical professionals had given up hope. We have questioned God often as to why certain things should happen to him but loooking back at the circumstances, he was in God’s palm through all the storms.

Planting was his passion. As a young lad just out of school until his retirement it was the planting sector which he delighted in. Appuchi was known to be a strict disciplinarian; he was fair but tough. Refusing to bow to any political pressure or interference, he had to face his fair share of politically instigated harassment because he stood by his principles. He would transform any estate given under his care and go about creating production and yield records on a majority of estates he was in charge of.

If planting was his passion, Trinity was his addiction. He devoted his time to Trinity College and was appointed Hony. Administrative Secretary. His love for God and love for Trinity inspired him to form the Old Trinitians Prayer Group which met at the chapel regularly. He took on the project of restoring the chapel paintings and raised funds for the chapel ceiling. Appuchi’s dream was to complete the chapel the way Rev. Fraser envisioned it in 1922. When dementia was taking a toll on his mind and body, it was the name of Trinity and our mother’s voice that brought back the spark and life to his eyes. The red, gold and blue did most certainly run through his veins.

They say a father is a daughter’s first love and a son’s first hero. He was all that and more to both of us. He along with Ammi made inmeasurable sacrifices to give us comfortable lives and childhood memories we would cherish forever. He instilled the importance of family to us and led by example in the way he cared and loved for Ammi and us. Appuchi always let his actions do the talking partly because his soul mate and best friend – Ammi did most of the talking most of the time.

By his actions he showed us that you earn respect by being humble, caring and honest – it’s all about how you treat the people whom you meet on a daily basis. No matter what their station in life is. He has been more than a hero to us, more than a role model. If we have half his qualities, we have achieved something in life. We miss him terribly, yet we know he’s with us, free of pain and sorrow. He is still a devoted husband and wonderful father.
We are blessed to be his children.
-Shanika and Ramesh

Humanitarian Doc who practised gentlemanly politics
Dr. Gamini Wijesekara
Gamini Chandra Wijesekara was an exemplary medical doctor who was admired by all communities of the country and politicians as well as religious leaders including the Buddhist clergy. He was the eldest child of the late Professor O.H. de A.I. Wijesekara, a scholar of Indo-Aryan languages of international repute and the founder Vice-Chancellor of the University of Colombo. The late Mabel Wijesekara, his mother was a scholar of Pali.

Gamini was a rare and brilliant individual. In addition to his medical wizardry, he was endowed with genuine honesty and a bright vision of the country. With clear discernment and determination, Gamini entered politics to bring about a beneficial change. In 1963 he joined the Students Front of the UNP and entered active politics by joining the UNP youth convention. Later he led the Sri Lanka national youth delegation to the International Youth Convention held in Cuba.
After the UNP’s landslide victory in 1977, Gamini was elected to the Working Committee of the party in recognition of his significant contribution to the party.
The highlights of Gamini’s political career were in the 1990’s where he developed a close relationship with the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa who admired him for his honesty and integrity.

ln 1993 , Gamini was elected as a member of the Western Provincial Council .
When he resigned from the Provincial Council to be sworn in as the General Secretary of the UNP, in his speech he introduced the importance of practising “gentlemanly” politics. It was tragic that after his landmark address, Sri Lanka lost a golden son of our soil in a few months with his demise on a political platform.

With the assassination of President Ranasinghe Premadasa on May 1, 1993, the late D B. Wijetunge who was Prime Minister was appointed as interim President. The unsettled conditions in the country as well as within the UNP led to the appointment of Gamini as the General Secretary of the UNP by President Wijetunge. Gamini accepted this important post with great dedication and his usual humility in addition to holding responsible positions in various government institutions namely Lanka Milk Foods, University of Moratuwa, the Foreign Employment Bureau, Employees Trust Fund, University Grants Commission and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.

With Gamini being appointed as the general secretary of the governing party, the professional and intelligentsia , as well as politicians on both sides, had confidence in his far-sighted vision to combat terrorism first by negotiations, and failing such an approach, by military intervention. Gamini was the pioneer in evolving a political vision in defeating the LTTE which was killing non-combatants and political leaders from all communities. lt is regretted that what Gamini contributed to bring about peace in the island that was ravaged by a civil war continuing unabated for over 15 years up to his demise in 1994 has been forgotten.
Gamini was a pioneer in cleaning up dirty bipartisan politics and bringing to the forefront educated and dedicated citizens to be “gentleman” politicians. The flame Gamini lit in 1994 still continues in the name of good governance although this exemplary statesman was taken from us for good in the same year by the vicious and brutal LTTE.

Gamini’s contribution to the UNP was immense – he listened to both the members and to the party hierarchy to evolve a level playing field. Gamini’s qualities of helping the poor are well known when he was a private medical practitioner. He did not charge his poor patients.

Gamini had the highest devotion and regard for the Buddhist clergy and instructed his driver to drop them back at the temples when they came to his clinic for treatment. Gamini visited those sick priests who were unable to come to his clinic, in the temples. He was also a family counsellor to his patients who always looked up to him for correct and unbiased advice.

Sri Lanka lost a statesman who dedicated his entire life to the upliftment of the social and economic conditions of the people. Gamini was a devout Buddhist who always swam upstream instead of floating with the norm downstream, to achieve his political vision for his motherland. As a Buddhist, he is revered for his virtues well nourished both by his father and his religion. He is a guiding light to present-day politicians who try to use political ideologies for personal gain and promote their own agendas.

Gamini was a loving husband to Daisy and exemplary father to Doctor Bavani and Dumesh, his only son.
May he attain the true Bliss of Nirvana.
-Ven. Udahamulla Sirivimala
Nayaka Thero

On your 95th birthday
Olga Crake -
Though your smile has gone forever
And your hand we cannot touch,still we have the memories
Of the ones we love so much
Your memory is our keepsake
Of which we will never part
God has you in his keeping,
And we have you in you heart.
-Your family

A legacy of loyal dedicated service
Vijitha Weerasinghe
With an unparalleled record as a ‘guru’ of multiple generations of Royalists, Vijitha Weerasinghe, “ Viji ” as he was lovingly referred to by all, earned the respect of all within the royal fraternity, from parents, teachers, principals and Royalists, both young and old. Statesmen sought his advice, principals valued his judgment, teachers sought his guidance, old boys his patronage and leadership, and students were just happy to greet him with “Good morning/afternoon Sir” to be greeted in kind referring to them as “putha ”.

He was sensitive, insightful, and a generous father figure to all. His first lesson to most male teachers would be to remember that they themselves were boys when dealing with schoolboys. He was kind but firm; a real life manifestation of King Duncan in all good respects.

A refined gentleman in every sense, he was all any parent would have loved to see their sons grow up to be. Viji was the sole authority within College on matters pertaining to the English language. Few could match his eloquence, grasp of literature and obviously no one could hold a candle to him on Latin.
He was a champion of fine arts at College. English Drama, especially Shakespeare would have been at least a tad less rich if not for the finer tweaks he inspired. In a pre-internet era, Viji went to the extent of getting down the video tapes of BBC Shakespeare productions from his contacts in UK for the benefit of young Royalists. An ardent fan of classical music, he would notice the slightest note sung out of tone by the choir and that made the choristers be on their toes and sing their best. He also loved nature though his liking for orchids was not known to many.

He would read the long list of winners at the College prize giving with flawless pronunciation, without the aid of spectacles or a full set of teeth, leaving the audience in awe year after year. He had never been admitted to a hospital until his first and last time which is testimony to his healthy lifestyle.
Viji has left behind a legacy of dedicated service and loyalty. He was a role model who was hard for anyone to match up to in a lifetime. Countless Royalists are better men having been fortunate to learn of books and men under his aegis or even simply be students during his tenure as Deputy Principal. He for one has surely repaid his debt to his beloved Alma Mater.

To write of him without a quote from literature he so loved would not do him justice so, borrowing from Hamlet … “sweet prince … may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest …”

-Lakshmi Attygalle

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