A kind and upright boss Rajah Salgado It was only recently that I heard of the very sad passing away of my old boss Rajah Salgado, whom I had the pleasure of knowing during my stint on the plantations in the Kalutara district in the 1980s. I also recently saw a few appreciations in the [...]




A kind and upright boss

Rajah Salgado

It was only recently that I heard of the very sad passing away of my old boss Rajah Salgado, whom I had the pleasure of knowing during my stint on the plantations in the Kalutara district in the 1980s. I also recently saw a few appreciations in the newspapers of this wonderful human being and thought the least I could do was to write a few lines about Mr. Salgado, although he was the last person who would want praise heaped on him. Praise and respect, he so well deserved!

Mr. Salgado served in the Sri Lanka State Plantations Corporation (SLSPC) regional office in Horana which was known as the SLSPC Board 3. To the best of my knowledge he served in this office in different capacities during the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, finally ending up as the Regional Director in charge of several large estates in the Kalutara District. It was very well known that his family owned the Panadura Tea and Rubber Company and having managed that company efficiently, he came to work in the state plantations sector and shared his knowledge and expertise.

I got to know him in the early 1980s when I had to report to him as my superior, who was overlooking the estate that I was managing and known as an estate Superintendent in those days. I can still picture him impeccably dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt seated in his office.  He was straightforward, kind and firm when he needed to be, above all, a patient listener. It was a pleasure to work under him, and I am always ever grateful to him for having obtained official leave for me to pursue my studies at that time in Colombo.

I badly wanted this leave to pursue my studies and when I made this request to him, he took it upon himself to speak to General Ranjan Wijeratne, Chairman of the SLSPC Central Board as it was known at that time and obtained this leave for me.

I had no doubt that Mr. Wijeratne being a strict disciplinarian only approved this request because it came from a person of the stature of Mr. Salgado as it was unheard of to obtain this type of official leave in this era. It was due to Mr. Salgado’s kindness and initiative that I was able to pursue my higher studies at the University of Colombo in the 1980s.

During his entire career he was one person whose honesty and integrity would never have been in doubt and I’m not merely referring to financial integrity alone but integrity in decision making and other aspects of ethical management. People of the calibre of Mr. Salgado are exceedingly rare in the present generation of bureaucrats, particularly in the public sector. My only regret is that I hardly saw him after he retired.

I last saw him and Mrs. Salgado around six years ago at a function of the former employees of the SLSPC Horana Board Office. He was the same genial personality that I knew and respected. Although rather frail, his memory was sound as ever and I spent quality time reminiscing about old times. I reminded him of how he helped me by obtaining the leave many years ago and the humble man that he was, he smiled and brushed off my remarks as just something he did as a part of his duties.

Unfortunately, that was the last time I met him and I was sorry to hear of his passing many months after his funeral. Even though rather late in the day, I wish to offer my deepest condolences to his wife and family. One of the greatest privileges I value is the period I worked under him and learning from him, mainly of human values which helped me in my own career. I pray that God will bless his family and that his soul will have eternal rest.

Rohan M. Fernando

The medical man whose love for cricket and wildlife bonded us even closer

 Dr. Nawalage Charles Neville Cooray

In 1927, Neville was born to Jerome and Lucy Wijegunawardena Cooray of Ragama.

Subsequently siblings Herbert and Lilian joined the family. The brothers had their early education at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. Neville having passed his London Matriculation in 1943, gained admission to the Science Faculty of the University of Ceylon, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Biology. Continuing in higher education, he was selected to the Medical Faculty of the same University and in 1953 obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Medicine & Surgery. His initial assignment was at the General Hospital, Colombo where he worked as a Resident in both Medicine and Surgery.

1954 was a milestone for  Neville, as he was introduced to the beautiful, vivacious Noeline Rohini Nedra, daughter of Robert and Sarah Samarasekera Gooneratne of Mawathagama. The wedding took place in Colombo in 1954 and they were blessed with two sons, Anil and Rohan.

Neville was extremely proud of his wife’s artistic, musical and literary skills, which he spoke eloquently of both at public and private functions on numerous occasions.

Neville’s medical journey now switched to Radiology, where an opportunity arose for him to proceed to the UK, on a Commonwealth scholarship. He honed his newly acquired Radiology skills at the Hammersmith Hospital in London and at Holt Institute, in Manchester. After his stint in the UK, he returned to Sri Lanka and took up multiple positions as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Colombo, whilst working as an active staff member of the Cancer Hospital, Maharagama.

Once more an overseas assignment took him to Newfoundland, Canada, where he obtained positions at the Memorial University and the General Hospital. After working for four years in Canada, his next move was to neighbouring USA, where he was offered positions in the New York State University of Syracuse, and in four hospitals in the same city. Bidding goodbye to New York in 1976, the family moved to  Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania, where he held a Directorate of the Montefiore Hospital, and was Assistant Professor of Radiology, at the University of Pittsburgh P. A.

After almost 20 years of work in Pittsburgh, Neville retired in 1996, leaving his palatial residence and finally returning home.

In retirement, he found two interests – cricket and wildlife. Our wildlife sojourns were to the Kaudulla and Minneriya wildlife parks as well as to Yala. But after the tsunami of 2004, decimated his brother Herbert’s Yala Hotel, resulting in a tragic loss of lives, we never went back to Yala again.

Fortunately Neville’s interest in cricket meant that we regularly watched cricket, especially the one-day matches with visiting foreign teams.

Neville’s world quite rightly centred round his immediate family but he also had plenty of time for his extended family and friends. Even at the height of his medical career overseas, he and Noeline on their visits home, never failed to visit us on the estates we were in and spend some quality time with us.

Neville was a unique individual, calm at all times, never in a hurry and the epitome of courtesy to whomever he met.

To me, it was a rewarding experience to be in his presence.

Bradman Perera

Respected by his seniors and loved by his followers

T.R. Cooray

Seven months have passed since T.R. (Thakshan Rohan) Cooray passed away at the age of 86 years, about eight months after his beloved wife Jayanthi passed away. Sri Lanka lost an eminent engineer who served the country with utmost honesty and dedication. Mine was an association with him for almost 50 years and he was my role model.

In late 1969, as a young Electrical Engineer, fresh from Peradeniya University, together with my batchmate Nimal Ekanayaka, I met Mr. Cooray as my first boss at the CEB, at Laksapana Power Station. This happy meeting and many years of association with him were to have a lifelong impression on me, ten years his junior.

As we walked in to his office for the first time, we were greeted with that friendly smile. After few soft-spoken words, he laid before us a training programme for the next six weeks, before we were commissioned as Operations Engineers to operate the power system on 24×7 basis on shifts.

Laksapana complex had three hydro power stations with a total 175MW capacity, supplying the entire country at the time. Our training was two weeks at each power station. At the two remote stations in Norton Bridge and Polpitiya, he had arranged the training to be residential. From this introduction to duties we realized Mr Cooray meant business and we had to be equal to the task.

People working at Laksapana live in isolation from any nearby town. Official quarters are provided. For recreation two clubs with sports facilities, one for seniors and another for other staff, are provided. At the Officers’ Club we met the other, not so serious, Mr Cooray whose favourite game was playing Bridge. We as young engineers looked forward to invitations to dine at his residence and taste sumptuous meals prepared by his loving wife.

Reminiscing about Mr Cooray’s great qualities both as a professional and a human being, he never used official vehicles for private errands. To him budgeting and budgetary control were a must. His notes/ instructions were on strips (chits) torn off A4 sheets of paper to save money. Gradually we also got used to it.

He was thorough in any engineering matter in general and those associated with any power station he worked at. At CEB, to my knowledge, he had worked at power stations (both hydro and thermal) only. We often wondered from where he found the time to accumulate this vast engineering knowledge. Incidents and examples are too many to mention.

However, one incident must be mentioned. On a very rainy day at Laksapana, the water intake to Polpitiya power station (75MW) tunnel had got blocked with debris, starving the station of water supply. Water to Polpitiya station flows into an eight km long tunnel at Laksapana, ending up at a surge chamber in Polpitiya which connects to steel pipe lines taking water to turbines in the station. Around noon, Mr Cooray had been informed that there is no generation at the Polpitiya station due to lack of water in pipelines and the generators were running as synchronous motors drawing power from the system.If the station was not brought back to normal before night peak load there would have been power cuts.

He advised us to have lunch and come back within an hour. On our return he gave his “chits” to all task masters. I was asked to proceed to Polpitiya station to start the machines when conditions were back to normal (the Station Engineer was on leave). An Engineer (now resident in New Zealand) who had been with us for only 2-3 weeks at the station on training was asked to join me to travel to Polpitiya.His task was to walk to the surge chamber in the bush with two labourers from the station and check the water level there. His instruction chit to him included even the things to carry: a torch, coir ropes (length indicated) etc. Such was his attention to detail.

The restoration operation commenced around 2 p.m. Filling up the tunnel had to be done gradually, taking about four hours.The station was back to normal around 6.30 p.m, before the night peak load. My friend who went to the surge chamber returned having picked up a few leeches. The Chairman, CEB had called Mr Cooray, that evening to congratulate him and his staff for “Keeping the CEB flag flying and lights burning”.

The Maintenance Engineer for Laksapana complex was always a Chartered Engineer and generally considered the second in command at the station. During my stay after about 15 months as Operations Engineer, when the Maintenance Engineer left the station on a transfer and replacement never came, after a few months, Mr Cooray said that he wanted to put me in charge as Maintenance Engineer on condition that I serve the station for another two years. He knew I did not have the Charter at the time. I accepted. Mr Cooray moved out of Laksapana to Kelanitissa power station during this period. By then he had made me an Engineer confident to take up any challenge.

In 1973 I applied and was selected as Assistant Resident Engineer at New Laksapana Power station (100MW) under construction. In 1974, while still working at Laksapana, when I got married, Mr Cooray was my attesting witness.

Later he took up an appointment in Zambia in the Copper mines. I met him again in Zambia when I joined Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) from 1979 to 1986.

I next met him in Sri Lanka at Lanka Electricity Company (LECO) when I joined LECO in 1986 as a Project Manager. Here he was my boss again as Engineering Manager.

When IBM PCs came to the market, Mr. Cooray doubled his efforts with all engineering personnel being made computer literate able to develop software packages.This helped cutting down time to complete certain processes by more than 50%. However, the gem LECO was endowed with, as a result of this revolutionary process started by Mr Cooray, was the inhouse GIS package with data capturing using GPS technology, which had all the features of the GIS packages available in the international market.

In 1989 LECO was required to appoint a General Manager as per agreements with Asian Development Bank to obtain project financing to develop LECO. One day Mr. Cooray asked me to join him to meet the  LECO Chairman. At the meeting the Chairman asked me to take up the position and I asked Mr. Cooray why he was not taking it up. He said he wanted to continue in his present position and that he had already declined the offer from the Chairman. I am at a loss for words to write about the encouragement and cooperation I got from Mr. Cooray, in my new job.

When Mr. Cooray was to retire from LECO I offered to consult the Board and transfer the vehicle that was allocated to him. He declined. This is the gentleman who gave so much to build this company, from virtually nothing, and also to the country at large. Rare are this type of unselfish devoted human beings.

He meant so much to me as my “Guru”.

His two sons and daughter can be proud of their father who lived a very simple honest life and was a role model to many professionals, respected by his seniors and loved by his followers.

I am what I am today having gained from all what he gave me, since the day our paths crossed.

Mr. Cooray, Sir, may you attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

Eng. Amarasiri Perera

Ode to a blown candle

Nadeepa Dharmasiri

‘I sing to him that rests below”- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

‘Tis the day, oh, the eighth of August
Reminds us strong: Life is the vaguest!
Azure is the welkin, at which I stared
To the harmony of the chorus at dawn, I listened.
It sang of the days, weeks and seasons
The four years of life as victims of life’s treasons!
Songs euphonic; sung in your memory,
Charity is done- to relive your story,
All eyes alight with a mist of tears;
That will stream for many o’ sunless years!
You who could have been ‘the genuine priest’
A bane for the devil and for cherubs to feast!
Yet you for joys, saints strove to own,
Drew the last breath, of righteous tone,
Lived short and left,
At God’s behest,
Abandoned us all with hearts broken,
Words, emotions, left unspoken.

Ravindu Fonseka

A humble man of God

Ven. Godwin Weerasuriya

I came to know Ven. Weerasuriya way back in the late 80’s when he was the chairman of Church of Ceylon, Diocese of Colombo’s architectural committee. I was appointed to this committee during this time for my architectural expertise. Very soon I became close to him. I found him to be hardworking and committed to seeing projects undertaken to completion. Meetings were called at regular intervals and all the church projects, whether big or small had regular scheduled site visits. He would come with me, ask questions regarding the project to get first-hand details on its progress.

I still remember going to Puttalam, Chilaw, Balangoda and Rakwana on site visits in his Toyota station wagon, which he used to drive, accompanied by his loving wife.

As chairman of St Luke’s elders’ home in Buthgamuwa, Rajagiriya, he knew each resident  by name and looked after their welfare diligently and with love. During his tenure, he built the infirmary.

I greatly admired his commitment, hard work, integrity and God fearing qualities. He was one of my role models. In fact, he gave the homily at  my wedding service in 1994. I still remember his beautiful calligraphy type handwriting. After his retirement, my family used to visit him every year a few days after Christmas with our traditional Tamil sweetmeats. He and his wife welcomed us graciously. I remember the Christmas card I received from him last December, written by hand.

I was extremely sad to hear of his demise on March 25. I treasure the memories I have of him and thank God for giving us a priest of his calibre and commitment. May God give his soul eternal rest and comfort to his grieving family.

Godridge Samuel

Dada, you left us in deep sorrow

 Lorenz James Peiris (Laurie)

On March 13 this year, Jesus suddenly called our darling Dada to be with him, leaving us helpless, in deep shock and sorrow.

Dada was the captain of our family. Guiding, advising and encouraging us to study well and do our best in all we could. His smile was our great reward and his ‘lectures’ as we called them, helped keep us on the right track.

We were his universe; worrying about us when we fell ill, makig sure we were punctual and regular in our attendance at school and extracurricular activities, as a habit he would sit with us every night before going to bed to discuss how our day had been.

Even if Mama put a damper on something we wanted – be it a food treat, trip or party, we knew we could get Dada round to let us have it.

We miss him every minute, every day and are sure he is watching over us. So darling Dada till we meet at Jesus’ feet someday, we know God has you in his keeping. We have you in our hearts.

Your inconsolable Devindree (Didi),
Harshini (Miffy) and Senaka

A gracious and energetic leader of the family and community


Ramanathan Jesudasan Gunaratnam answered the call from his Master on June 14. He was born on March 20, 1924 to Murugupillai Richard Ramanthan and Elizabeth Ponnamah. His siblings Annatanam, Gnanamah, Ariaratnam, Satkunam, Arulammah, Parimalam and Navaratnam, have all gone beyond the veil. He studied at Jaffna College,Vaddukoddai and started his career as a Postmaster but his heart was set on the business world and he became a leading entrepreneur.

Gunam Uncle was also the proprietor of “Saree Emporium Jaffna”, one of the leading saree shops in Jaffna Town. The saree factory pioneered by him was situated in Thinnavely and provided training and employment for local residents. Gunam Mama was present at every major family event as a ‘Master of Ceremonies’ and helped in a variety of ways from welcoming people with grace and treating them with dignity to enable them to fully participate in the occasion. He was such a gracious and energetic leader of the family and community, readily available to take up the role based on his discretion.

RJG as he was called was a generous and devoted Christian. He helped numerous individuals and families in their time of need and crises. He never spoke or publicized such philanthropic gestures. He was an active member of the Bambalapitya Government Flats Association and showed leadership in all church activities.

Gunam Uncle married Blossom Thangaranee and they were blessed with two boys and a girl. He leaves behind his children Chrishanthy, Roshan and Niranjan and their spouses Nanthan Paramanantham, Pramo Muttucumaru and Diyana Sanders. He is also survived by his grandchildren Praveen, Prem, Menaha, Thulasi and Mythili and great grandchildren Verdi, Rocco, Kodiak, Dylan, Paige,and Caleb.

May our Lord grant him eternal rest.

Dr (Mrs) Premini Ariaratnam


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