We should be glad that such a man lived among us James Lionel Percival Perera When Octavius learns that Antony, his one-time comrade-in-arms, but later military foe, has died, in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, he exclaims, “The breaking of so great a thing should make a greater crack.” Lionel Perera was a humble, retiring man, [...]




We should be glad that such a man lived among us

James Lionel Percival Perera

When Octavius learns that Antony, his one-time comrade-in-arms, but later military foe, has died, in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, he exclaims, “The breaking of so great a thing should make a greater crack.” Lionel Perera was a humble, retiring man, not a warrior. But as the most senior lawyer in Kandy, probably oldest living Trinitian at the time of his passing, Registrar of the Diocese of Kurunegala under two Bishops, and one of the most recognizable gentlemen in Kandy town (always dressed in an immaculate white suit), his demise would have surely resulted in a public outpouring of grief, had power cuts, protests, political turmoil, economic crises, and his family’s decision to hold a private funeral not intervened.

When I informed his son Dr. Prasanna Perera in offering my condolences that I would not be at the funeral service because it was private, he urged me to attend saying that we were practically family—he was page boy at my sister’s wedding and his father was the attesting witness when my late brother Narendra got married so the families were close. It was a sparse crowd at the Mahaiyawa chapel, as expected, but there were representatives from Trinity College and the Anglican church in addition to family, relatives, and friends. One would hope that the school and St. Paul’s Church where he worshipped for years would give him a fitting memorial service in the months ahead.

“Mr Perera,” as he was called, was the senior partner of Liesching and Lee, one of the oldest and most prestigious law firms in Kandy.  Situated in the upper floor of the current Devon Restaurant on Dalada Veediya, it was easily the most spacious of law offices at the time with several typists and clerks busily helping the cause.  Since my father was a lawyer as well, I would spend hours exploring the building while the two discussed cases and life in general.  It was worth the wait for a kid since the generous Lionel Perera would usually treat us at Elephant House thereafter.

Mr. Perera was known for his integrity, duty consciousness and the meticulous way in which he would undertake legal tasks entrusted to him.  Many senior law firms in Colombo preferred to deal exclusively with Liesching and Lee at one point. He belonged to the old generation of lawyers who chose not to “talk up” his firm or solicit work, opting instead to wait until cases were sent to him which leading institutions in Kandy would do as a matter of course because of the firm’s reputation.  Many years later, when some colleagues belonging to a new dispensation endeavoured to secure work from institutions he had served for years, he responded to the incursions philosophically and with Christian forbearance.  Michael Sproule, who was senior partner of the Colombo law firm DL and F de Saram, and served on the Gratiaen Trust with me, spoke warmly of Lionel Perera when I once referred to him in conversation and added that he was a true gentleman.

Trinity College was Mr. Perera’s passion.  He would hire vehicles to witness TCK cricket and rugby games in Colombo and had not missed a Bradby in years until failing health prevented him from attending recently. He would become irate at partial refereeing/umpiring decisions and unsportsmanlike conduct and would compile letters to the editor contrasting the said incidents with a time when fair play was the norm.  Since he had left Trinity in 1942, he had plenty of material to draw on.  He would usually read out the letters over the phone to get our reaction before sending them to the newspapers. He was Hon. Secretary of the TCK OBA for years and was conferred the Night of the Lions Award for his loyalty to the school.

There are other qualities which made him an engaging personality.  A voracious reader, he was a mine of information on several subjects, knowledge he loved to share.  He would call me often when I was teaching at the University of Peradeniya requesting me to borrow tomes on Marlborough and other British notables of a previous generation from the library.  Until the recent past, he never forgot to wish us for Christmas and on our individual birthdays and would often embarrass me by reminding me of birthdays of my family members that I had forgotten!

Lionel Perera had many crosses to bear despite a distinguished career and the almost universal affection he was held in by others.  In the late 1980s he had to watch as a mob destroyed his ancestral home, and suffered along with his wife (Nirmala Thevadason, the former Hillwood principal) as she battled cancer. Then again, his movements were restricted in later years after a careless driver knocked into him.  These trials led him, a devout Anglican, to question his faith.  But as Rev. Neil Van Dort reminded the congregation in his tribute at the funeral service, Mr. Perera regained his belief in God in later years.

Though saddened that he did not live the couple of years required to achieve a much-awaited century, we should be glad that we had this conscientious, generous, gracious, erudite, loyal, and kindly man with us for so long. It is indeed fitting that he passed away during Easter. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Dr. Walter Perera

We are all blessed to have loved you and been loved by you


As I pen these words, it will be a year since you no longer walk this earth, beloved Uncle Prasad, fondly called Uncle Tony. I can still vividly remember the last time I spoke to you on April 17, in Colombo, to wish you for your birthday with a promise to visit you soon. The lingering warmth of your last hug is etched in my mind and a deep sadness envelops me as I will not have the chance to fulfil that promise, as God had other plans. He had seen you had grow weary and broke our hearts by calling you back sooner.

A gentle, caring, loving and beautiful soul you were and still are, as your spirit still lives among your loved ones. We are all blessed for having known you. For having loved you and been loved by you. A beloved husband, father and brother to doting sisters, brothers, and a loving uncle to nieces and nephews. You were a true brother to a grateful brother-in-law, too. An unbelievably massive pillar of support you have been for our family.

You touched so many lives by your selfless and countless acts of kindness, always giving and never expecting anything in return. Your dedication and reliable support was what set you apart. Despite life’s hardships, you always turned up to support family and friends in times of need and that will never be forgotten as that is what the definition of love truly is.

Friendly, humble and caring, your sense of humour and hearty laughter still rings in our ears. Remembering the joyful countenance and unending generosity that was your unique identity brings back fond memories. You conquered hearts, lived life the best way you could, smiled through all the hardships, always positive and hopeful for better times ahead.

Your warm smiles and golden heart are so missed. We take solace in knowing that the pain, disappointments and sadness in life are washed away as God cradles you in His arms. We remember you on this birthday and what an honour and privilege it has been to have known you on earth.

Your loving niece,  Nithya

In your love we were millionaires

 Lorensz James Peiris ( Laurie)

Two years ago on March 13, Jesus softly and gently called our darling Dada to be with him and with only a silent look at us, he left us, numb with grief and helpless with shock.

We depended on Dada for everything. Decisions, guidance, advice and encouragement when things did not turn out as expected. With love immeasurable he was always there, knowing what we lacked or needed. Like Superman he would provide it. When asked how he knew, he would say with an angelic smile “I’m your Dada, so I know.”

We miss you Dada, every minute every day and know you are watching over us.

We were not rich, we were not poor but in your love we were millionaires.

Till we meet at Jesus’ feet.

Devindree (Didi), Harshini (Miffy) and Senaka


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