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We will always remember their warmth and love

Mohan and Roshni Tennekoon

Mohan Tennekoon was born with the proverbial silver spoon to an upper crust Kandyan clan. His parents Dr. and Mrs. Percival Tennekoon nurtured their four children in the best traditions and values of the Christian faith. Despite the perks and privileges that a colonial lifestyle afforded them, they grew up without a trace of arrogance or pomposity.

Nirmalene, the eldest wed popular GP, Dr. Walter Gunaratna and moved to Colombo. Chandrika, the youngest, who is domiciled in the States, is remembered with affection, for she had been in the habit of taking a carload of friends to high tea at home on a daily basis at a time when food was scarce in the country.

The two boys, Reggie and Mohan, after an initial spell at Trinity College, were sent to London for higher studies.

Reggie passed out as a doctor and subsequently migrated to Australia. Mohan, a student of the London School of Economics, passed the LLB with first class honours. After completing his legal studies, he opted to return home. The Central Bank absorbed him and he worked there unobtrusively until retirement. In a land teeming with ‘I’ specialists, the word ‘I’ seldom surfaced in his vocabulary. If asked what his role was at the big Bank, he would reply “clerical work” with a disarming smile.

Mohan’s father was mesmerised by a pretty bridesmaid at a wedding and wished to make her his daughter-in-law. Investigations revealed that her credentials were excellent. Roshni Gunasekera was a playful, carefree student of Methodist College, living in the hostel.

Art was Roshni’s forte and she aspired to be an artist. Dr. Tennekoon did not dillydally. Without losing time, he initiated the courtship, sent chocolates and gifts to Roshni. She swallowed the bait. She shed her school uniform, threw her aspirations to the wind, and walked to the altar with Mohan.

It was a divine marriage. The Gunasekeras were large-hearted, fun loving and easygoing. Altruism ran in the veins of both parties. Mohan and Roshni’s blissful marriage of over 60 years was free of discord. They travelled widely and were blessed with four children. Sadly they lost one son on the way. The other three – Shanelli, Rashmini and Rukshan did their parents proud and matured to be chips off the old blocks –  decent, gentle and upright.

Mohan and Roshni were doting grandparents to Vishani and Vishane and took the liberty to spoil them as grandparents do. Their third granchild, Rukshan’s son Mikel, brought sunshine to their declining years. He was his grandpa’s IT coach and helped him explore the internet.

Mohan and Roshni’s greatest happiness was relaxing with family and friends. Their spacious home at Cambridg Place was literally open at all hours. We carry beautiful memories of happy times spent there: Roshni, the accomplished cook flitting around, pouring long drinks into tall glasses or heaping food on plates.

Mohan was a member of the high-end clubs of Colombo and friends were invited to wine and dine and share the fun. They helped others indiscriminately. When someone approached them with a problem, they took it on instantly and tried to find a solution.

That final night Roshni called me and explained the efficacy of ‘venivelgata’, the ayurvedic herb and vowed to pour it down my throat the next morning. Those were the last words she spoke and the only promise she couldn’t keep.

We will remember these unique and amazing friends with overflowing love, till life lasts. May they be reunited with their dear departed and find eternal happiness, peace and tranquillity in the arms of the Lord.

Kamala Wadugodapitiya

A young life lost in defence of principles he stood by


I am writing this to commemorate the 34th death anniversary of Kanil Dissanayake, Manager of Talgaswella State Plantation in Galle District, old Thomian and member of the Ceylon Planters Society.

On that fateful night of September 12, 1989, when the knock came on the door, he removed the chain with the cross from around his neck, placed it under the pillow and walked out to face the assassin’s bullet, head held high.
He stood by his principles and sacrificed his young life in defence of those ideals. He took instructions only from his superiors in managing the large southern plantation which had been entrusted to his care and led his staff fearlessly from the front during the reign of terror. He refused to give in to the pressures of the rebels, who were on a rampage in the plantation districts, in order to cripple the economy. On the plantation he had recorded a net profit of approximately Rs. 5.6 million for 1989.

Had he heeded my father’s advice of spending the nights at our family home in Baddegama, just 10 km away from his plantation, he would have, by the grace of God, still been living among us. But his first and only priority was the dedication to his duties and not to run away.
As a result, his wife lost a devoted husband, my niece lost a loving father, my parents lost a caring and dutiful son and I lost my best friend – my brave brother Kanil and the country lost a disciplined planting professional who was tirelessly dedicated to his job.

Beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm,
A man of heroic blood,
Proud through child-like form.

He stood on the burning deck,
When all but him had fled,
With shroud, mast and pennon fair,
That well has borne his past,
But the noblest thing that perished there,
Was that young and faithful heart.
May his soul rest in peace. We all are proud of him.

Sunil Dissanayake

Thank you for a lifetime of service and dedication to Wesley College

Clifford Tissa Rodrigo

Clifford was a true-blue product of Wesley College. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his family, following a short illness.

I first met him in the early 1950’s in the primary school, when he was a year junior to me. I remember with such clarity Clifford playing cricket during the school intervals in the small park in Karlshrue Gardens with his friends. He did so with such energy, verve and vigour.

Clifford continued with his love of cricket and played for the 1st XI from 1961-63. Wrist spin has long been a wondrous skill that mesmerised batsmen. His memorable 8 wickets for 9 runs against a formidable Ananda College team will be remembered as one of the finest achievements by any schoolboy cricketer in Sri Lanka. This was a ritual annihilation. I was watching from the sidelines as Clifford simply bamboozled a succession of well-known batsmen by his wily flight and turn and immaculate line and length. It must have been bewildering and more than a little frustrating to be confronted by such vicious spin for which no one seemed to have an answer.

Clifford Rodrigo became an instant superstar for this most remarkable feat. Despite all this adulation he remained modest and wore his honours lightly.

Being genteel and refined, at school he kept away from the mischief and naughtiness that was ever present. I remember Clifford as a charming, soft spoken and cultured person. He was kind and generous and had a fine sense of humour. All through his school career and beyond he was a deeply religious person, and kept his faith right to the very end.

My abiding memory of Clifford at school is of a lad who was always well turned out. His school uniforms were starched and ironed and his hair Brylcreemed and neatly combed back. He continued this elegance into later life when he appeared at school functions in dapper suits with great style and grace. He conducted himself with politeness and courtesy at school meetings even when they were rather intense at times.

After leaving school he continued to play cricket for the Burgher Recreation Club. Clifford was a fine hockey player too captaining the Mercantile Hockey Association Team in 1971 and being selected as the Best Player that year.

Clifford held responsible managerial positions in Carsons and Shaw Wallace and Hedges. I understand from personal communications that when he was a manager at JEDB in Avissawella he conducted himself with great dignity and was ever helpful to the many planters who visited.

For me it was a great pleasure to see Clifford at the Grand Reunion at Wesley College in 2012 in the familiar surroundings of the Great Hall and at Campbell Park. Although I saw him after more than 50 years, time just melted away as we spoke. We reminisced at length of those glorious years recalling warmly of sports, friends and teachers of our time.

Formidably industrious, he combined his day job with a multitude of assignments and activities related to Wesley College. Although surprisingly shy, he was meticulous, knowledgeable and clear-minded, with a rigour of intellect that allowed him to see through problems. Clifford was a great help to the organisation. I am aware that Clifford always remained close to the school through the Old Boys Union. He was an office bearer and remained a stalwart of the Old Wesleyites Sports Club. He also functioned as the indefatigable Prefect of Games keeping our sports in the forefront. He provided a great service to Old Boys worldwide by his Annual Sports Reviews. Those newsletters were honest, comprehensive and a pleasure to read.

We will always remember his loyalty and commitment to Wesley. He carried out his duties to the school he loved with great devotion. For his allegiance and service to the school over so many decades Clifford will forever be remembered at Wesley.

On behalf of the worldwide brotherhood of Wesleyites, I wish to thank Clifford Rodrigo for a lifetime of support for Wesley and for the immense contribution to the life of the school.

We pass on our deepest sympathies to the family at this time of grief.

As we say for cricketers, “May the turf lay lightly on him”.

Dr. Nihal D. Amerasekera

 He showed the way at Air/Ground operations

S.S. Kalingawansa

A twin, he was originally from Balapitiya, in the southern part of Sri Lanka. His dialect typical of the language spoken there, stood witness to his place of birth, until his demise.

Quick witted and with a razor-sharp mind, yet with a kindest heart, he loved animals. Away from duties, he was a good and selfless friend, always considerate to extend whatever help he could afford to others.

When we (a batch of eight) joined the Airport (then Civil Aviation) in 1974, he was our senior in charge of Air/Ground operations and taught us the basics of Morse Code operation, which system was used to communicate with other regional stations related to air movements, Semi Circular Rule (for segregation of flying levels) along with international phonetics to facilitate voice communication with aircraft in our territory called Flight Information Region (FIR) and with adjacent regional ground stations in a network of Air/Ground stations, in addition to educating us, how call-sign numbers were allotted in consideration of the direction (east or west) of travel, either to or from the Colombo International Airport, Katunayake (BIA).

In general parlance, work functions or the job role of an Air Traffic Controller is commonly understood by any layman. Yet, during that time, the  Aero Mobile Communications Dept., formed part of Air Traffic Services and even at present, Air Traffic Controllers, in sectored Air Traffic, depended or sought the services provided by Aero Mobile communication officers, who work in a network, joining South East Asian ground stations. And several were the situations when Kalingawansa whom we called Kalinga Ayya, could avert near-misses by pinpointing to the otherwise miscalculating Air Traffic Controller, to ascertain the exact point of time when two flying aircraft converge or intersect, at certain coordinates of the globe simultaneously.

His other twin predeceased him, and Kalinga Ayya peacefully departed this world, around five years ago in Ratmalana where he lived since his marriage, leaving a daughter who today is a High Court Judge/Magistrate in the Gampaha District.

May his journey in this samsara be a shorter one.

Maxie Perera

Memories of a gentle life

Rohan Karunaratne

A shining star
Arose in this world
To spread happiness and empathy
Silently and diligently.

Treading on his path at a young age
On the passing of his father
Assumed leadership of the family guided them
and all members of his extended family
When the need arose.

A loving husband to his wife
A beloved father to his children
The achievements of his grandchildren
He acknowledged with joy
Contentment and happiness came naturally to him.

His leadership qualities were highlighted
In the commercial world for over forty years
His illustrious career is clearly evident

A respected leading figure
In Sri Lanka’s agricultural sphere
Spearheading and utilising
Dynamic ideas in diversification
To generate enhanced economic values.

With gentle and upright conduct
By example rather than precept
He skilfully led his team
With professionalism and tact.

Reminiscing his exemplary qualities
Tactfully and silently
Guiding and assisting
Those near and dear and
Those who sought his advice

All were mentored, unobtrusively,
Irrespective of their status in life.

He is missed so dearly
Our gentle silent mentor
Peacefully taken away
By the cycle of life.

Whilst accepting the loss as inevitable:
Memories of his gentle, calm and pleasant qualities showered on all
Remain for ever and will never fade away.
May he tread on a peaceful path
On his journey to attain
The supreme bliss of Nirvana.