[APPRECIATIONS - (12-11-2018)]

Prof. U.S. Jayawickrama

A remarkable doctor

After a distinguished medical career of 36 years, Prof. U.S. Jayawickrama passed away at the ripe age of 88 recently. A southerner who hailed from Galle, Prof. Jayawickrama received his primary education at Richmond College, Galle and later joined Royal College, Colombo, for higher education.

A brilliant product of Royal College, he won several Art prizes and the coveted De Soysa Science Prize. He entered the Medical College directly from school in 1949, skipping one year of university.

At the faculty, he obtained distinctions in Anatomy, Pharmacology and Medicine and passed his MBBS in 1954 and MD in 1958. He later went to London on a scholarship for his MRCP (London) in 1963.

He was appointed as a physician at the Colombo General Hospital at the relatively early age of 42, a post he held for 18 years until his retirement. He was also elected President of the Ceylon College of Physicians in 1980.

A man of letters, he functioned as the Chairman of the Board of Study for Medicine at the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine in Colombo for ten years. With a few top medical experts, he later initiated the establishment of the Diabetes Association of Sri Lanka, a social welfare project to ensure the well-being of patients suffering from the disease.

In the dizzy heights of his career, Prof. Jayawickrama was appointed Consultant Physician of the National Hospital in Colombo. He pioneered the setting up of the Medical Intensive Care Unit and became its Physician-in-Charge. To add to his fame and credentials, he was appointed Professor of Pharmacology of the Colombo North Medical College at Ragama. Perhaps it would not be incorrect to say that Professor Jayawickrema strongly preferred clinical diagnoses to investigations with sophisticated instruments of modern technology.

Prof. Jayawickrema was a connoisseur of arts and a master of copper handicrafts. His Colombo residence was a mini art gallery, with its walls adorned with his superb artistic creations.

Ars Longa, Vita brevis (Art is long, life is short).

His demise, even at the ripe age of 88 years, is a irreparable loss to the country.

May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.

K.D.M. Kittanpahuwa


Joyce Fernando

Dedication was in her blood

The unexpected news of the sudden passing away of my cousin Joyce was a shock to her relatives, family and thousands of students who benefitted from her as a teacher of English at Holy Family Convent, Kalutara. She dedicated her life to teaching and continued to do so for 33 long years at the same institution.

She was the second daughter of my uncle Michael and his wife Mildred and was born and bred at Waters Meet, Maggona; a serene location where the river meets the sea at a short distance from our ancestral home at Velmarie. Dedication was in her blood and she chose the noble profession of teaching and made it her own. Joyce enjoyed every minute of it and achieved a fine balance between her career and family life.

During her tenure, Holy Family produced many professionals who achieved high positions having mastered the English Language and she was fortunate to see and appreciate such achievements. She held herself to the highest standards, but was at all times compassionate and fair. Joyce's command of the English language and her ability to instill knowledge in her students was unique. Her loyalty and commitment was never better expressed as the presence of large number of students, young and old, who paid their last respects to her at the funeral.

In a society where teachers' efforts often go unnoticed and unappreciated, the noble gesture by the present principal and teachers of Holy Family Convent who paid her the ultimate honour by carrying her coffin on their shoulders to the final resting place, was unique and hardly witnessed in modern times. This is was a remarkable act of respect and honour for someone who served the school with deep commitment and dedication. More than anything else, she will be remembered for her genuine warmth, which was evident in her deep love for her family and steadfast support of colleagues in an often unforgiving society.

In retirement, she was well cared for by her only daughter Shianka and her husband Nandana. She also had the companionship of her only sister Claudia to the very end. She was blessed with a close-knit family and was active to the very end. It was only a few weeks ago that we all met at a family gathering in Maggona which consisted of four generations and Joyce played an active role in organising the event.

Teachers' lives are never easy and often the financial rewards are meager. Joyce, however, balanced her family life and career as a teacher and fulfilled this task admirably. She was predeceased by her husband, Bert, many years ago and survived by her four children; Hiran, Romesh, Sanjaya and Shianka and their spouses; her only sister Claudia as well as her brother Blaise.

May her soul rest in peace. I believe God will accept her with open arms for all the good she has done while she was on this earth.

Susantha Fernando

Colombo 5


Prianca Perera

He was selfless

The air is cool and crisp as a sublime breeze blows from the mountainside towards the patio and into my room. I think of our dear friend Prianca who suddenly passed away on that Monday night. The weekend before, we received an email from him telling us that he would not be able to be with us for Christmas as he was working on a new venture with a friend.

When my neighbor from Colombo called us with the news, we were stunned to hear of his sudden passing. It took us a while to comprehend this news about our good friend. I recalled the first time we met him at Calvary Church with another dear friend, Damayanthi Herath, who sadly passed away many years ago in the prime of her life, due to cancer.

Prianca was a solemn greeter at church; impeccably dressed, he was dedicated to his duty as an usher. Even though we left Sri Lanka in 2005, we kept in touch via email and phone. Prianca and Manique became very dear to Hillary and I, and I recall the lovely times we spent after church, going to Carnival for ice cream. We enjoyed many dinners and gatherings with our friends from Calvary, as well as the black cherry cheesecakes that my sister-in-law Mano introduced us to at the newly-opened Don Stanly’s at that time.

We never missed a Purple Rain or Philharmonic Pops concert. We used to listen to lobby music at hotels, just enjoying a fun evening together. Prianca loved keyboard music. I would plead him to treat us to a bit of his piano playing occasionally at his home. The trips we had with our group of friends were always memorable: the ones to Welimada, World’s End, and Habarana were such scintillating experiences. I remember clearly how we ended up at a tourist bungalow in Anuradhapura during one of those sudden long-weekend trips. Despite the not-so-comfortable atmosphere, we enjoyed the loud taped music of the Gypsies while we laughed at one another's jokes and stories. There was many an impromptu trip we had together. I remember the in-depth conversations we had on social issues and religion, as well as the rationalised explanations that Prianca gave us to clear our minds.

Prianca loved God deeply and would not miss hearing his word at any given opportunity. It is difficult to talk about the once-so-happy memories when our friends are no more. Our minds are the repositories of all those lovely memories of friends who have left us. They will always be vivid and present in our lives.

Prianca was such a caring son and brother who did all that he could. He was also selfless, giving whatever he could to his relatives and friends. Prianca understood all the trials Hillary and I were going through at our home in Colombo; the home where we spent many a time in togetherness and joy with our crowd. He would remind me to be still, to make those two Biblical words our affirmation and to always rely on God.

Prianca’s earthly life has ended; he is now beyond the moon and the stars. He is with Christ in Heaven. We thank God for the beautiful memories of our times with you, Prianca. All the precious images in the streams of time will remain in the prism of our memory forever.

Goodbye, dearest friend. We will see you again.

Charmaine and Hillary Candappa


M.R. Jaldeen

An efficient technician

It was with deep dismay that I learnt of the demise of my erstwhile friend M.R. 'Tony' Jaldeen after an illness bravely borne over the past few years in his home at Mahara, Kadawatha.

Our casual acquaintance in the 60's blossomed into a friendship since we both resided in the large township of Kotahena in Colombo. Our families too teamed up well with our children being of similar age groups. Tony's expertise was in the technical field, having joined the Royal Ceylon Air Force in 1961 and on leaving, was employed at CEGEE Alstom.

Tony, in his quest to seek greener pastures, later decided to leave his young family behind and join a reputed company in Oman. During his long stint, Tony proved his mettle as a technician of incredible efficiency.

He always remained close to his wife, Fareeda and daughters Mumtaz, Muhara, and Ruhani who had their education at St. Paul's Girls' School, Milagiriya. Tony's home was a welcome abode when he returned to Sri Lanka on vacation, evident in the abundant warmth and hospitality present there. I had the privilege of being invited to his home during the visits from the country of my domicile. Tony was an excellent entertainer and the lavish spread of delicious food was his specialty. Our friendship never waned and I still recall Tony's commendable gesture in inviting my family for the weddings of his three daughters at the Mount Lavinia Hotel.

On his return, Tony was successful in securing employment commensurate with his skills and was happy to be back home, where in addition to his family responsibilities, he cared for his bedridden father-in-law with much affection. Our social meetings were frequent, including teaming up to witness inter-club rugby matches in the metropolis during an era when it was played in the correct spirit.

Our friendship took a turning point when my family and I opted to migrate in the early 90's. On the eve of our departure to foreign climes, we were hosted to a sumptuous lunch in his home. I was literally in tears when Tony spoke words of farewell with an emotional aura. It was the most solemn meeting that our families had encountered through the years. We were presented with a crafted souvenir of the Last Supper, which adorns our home to this day and is a perennial tribute to dear Tony's magnanimity in the backdrop of having traversed a three-hour journey from Oman to purchase the invaluable gift; a symbol of inter-religious harmony.

Tony was a man for all seasons and ever willing to lend a helping hand in the clasp of family and friendship. Our ties, though from afar, remained on terra firma; proving that distance cannot dim the essence of an abiding friendship, which for us, lasted until he bade farewell to his earthly sojourn. I have lost a very amiable and trusted friend in the demise of Tony Jaldeen whose extroverted personality and willingness to traverse that extra mile were facets of his life and will remain etched in my memory forever.

Tony was the son of late M.K. Mohamed Khalid Jaldeen and late Gnei Devi Jaldeen (nee Azoor), and besides his wife, daughters and their families, Tony leaves behind his sisters Surabi Sabar, Ahayani Sandarasagara and Noorani. He was predeceased by his younger brothers Fareed (Boney) and Azeez (Rooney).

Farewell, dear Tony. Until we meet beyond the sunset.

Eric Motha


Wickrema de Alwis

Industrious planter

I was deeply saddened when I learnt of the passing away of Wickreme de Alwis, the former Chairman of Sri Lanka State Plantation Corporation's Board I, from an article of appreciation that appeared in a newspaper recently. I worked with him at the Regional Board Office at Glencairn, Norwood, when he was its chairman and also at the Hingurugama Office Complex on Pasara Road, Badulla.

I came to know of him in the mid-70's, when I visited the Kotiyagala Estate to form employees' councils. The concept of employees' participation in the management of estates through elected employees' councils was conceived, nurtured and promoted by the united left government that was in power during the early 70's. Dr. Colvin R. De Silva was the Plantation Industries Minister at the time. He was enthusiastic in the formation of employees' councils at plantations. The task of going around the estate meeting employees and getting them elected was assigned to me under the designation of Employment Relation Officer of the Sri Lanka State Plantation Corporation.

It was during one such visit that I came in contact with Wickrema de Alwis at the Kotiyagala Estate at Bogawantalawa. After his long stay there, de Alwis was transferred to the Strathspey Estate at Upcot, an equally-large estate that was however, running at a loss as there were numerous complaints made by the staff. However, within a short period he transformed the place for the better. I asked him as to how he managed to make it possible and he said that all he did was grant the correct overtime payments to the factory's staff after finding out the cause of their dissatisfaction.

He was a member of the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club and was also a lover of nature. He visited national parks regularly and all through out his life, he had pet dogs around him.

Wickrema de Alwis was a unique and iconic planter of his age. He trained a number of planters who hold key positions in many companies and his contributions to the field were immense. His working life ran through three epochs: the pre-nationalisation period prior to 1970, the post-nationalisation period from 1972 to 1992, and the post-privatisation period till the birth of the new millennium.

At the time he joined the Malwatta Valley Plantation as its Managing Director, the company was initially incurring heavy losses, but by sheer hard work and prudent administration, together with the cooperation of his colleagues, he converted the company into a money-spinner. When regional companies were offered on a long-term lease basis, the Malwatta Valley is said to have fetched the highest price.

After de Alwis left the plantation, he continued to serve a number of estates as a visiting agent.

His relationship with trade unions was cordial and smooth. Though he was firm in his decisions, he showed flexibility and did not allow the unions to go empty-handed after discussions. He always respected senior trade union leaders.

May his soul rest in peace.

K.T. Shanmugam, Attorney-at-Law

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