Royal People

A dedication to those wonderful people who served Royal Primary School & Royal College, in Sri Lanka, since 1835, and, who will be remembered for their committment, sincerety and unselfishness.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Man in a Million Moves On

Mr Vijitha Weerasinghe, affectionately known to all Royalists, young and old, as "Viji", passed away this morning after suffering a heart attack on Sunday. To those of us who had the greatest honor and privilege of having known him, studying under him, or even working together with him during his latter days as the RCU representative at College, he will live on, forever, in our hearts and minds.

We grieve on the loss of a Man in a Million who has contributed 73 years of his life to Royal and who has been much loved by one and all through the ages.

We share this loss with his loving family and we hope that they will be strong in these moments of sadness.

Sir, you have taught us to learn of books and learn of men and learn to play the game. You have taken us from crayons to careers. You have shown us the right way, all of the time. We will remember you, always.

May your soul rest in Peace!

Royal College Riyadh Group (RCRG)
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Wednesday, Oct 31, 2007
--------------------------

To all my fellow old-Royalists,

Today, we mourn the loss of one of the most important 'pillars' of our beloved alma mater. Mr. Viji Weerasinge, 'Ducky' as he was very fondly referred to (behind his back, of course) has breathed his last, ending a glorious 'innings' and an exemplary life lived with absolute honesty,integrity, sincere love for all humanity and with no traces of racial, communal or any other form of bias.
Just like all of you, I too have had a very,very close association with this Gentleman par excellence, Teacher beyond compare and a sincere and always dependable Friend cum Advisor.Mr. Weerasinghe has had an extremely cordially relationship spanning 54 years with my family commencing the day my brother Shibly joined Royal College in 1954. My brother Imtiaz and I were fortunate to come under the shade of his 'umbrella' in the early sixtees.Thereafter, my sons Kamran, Aftab and Maalik too have been extremely lucky to have had him as their Deputy Principal and later as a Guide and Mentor who always stood by them in good times and the not so good, having continously being in touch with us from his office at the RCU.

Mr. Weerasinghe has always been a self-sufficient,happy and contented human being who was always at hand to offer good counsel and guidance to all who sought him out.
May he rest in peace. May his family have the strength to bear this terrible loss. Nevertheless, they can rest assured that here was a gentleman who was loved,treasured and respected by one and all.

Ifthikhar Aziz

145/2B, Park Road, Colombo 05. Sri Lanka.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Viji Recalls Kadalay


Memories of Kadalay


My memories of Kadalay hark back to 1939, when I entered Royal as a student at Form I on promotion from the former Royal Preparatory School, and to the 40 s during my school career. Kadalay started his unique association with Royal as the acolyte of Kadaley Aachchi, who was the "official" gram ‑ vendor of the College at that time, and was called the Wadai Boy because his wares (probably an ancillary trade to Kadalay Aachchi's and under her aegis) were "parippu" wadais, which in those halcyon days, when the humble copper coin was indeed legal tender to be reckoned with, cost I cent each, 2 cents for one a little larger and flatter with a smattering of maldive fish and 2 previous day's stale wadais re‑fried to a brown crisp for I cent ‑ cheap, but food for the gods!!

I well remember the benevolent and rotund old Kadalay Aachchi seated under the Reed Tabebuia with her basket of assorted grams such as "bola" kadalay", "rata" cadju and konda kadalay of which 5 cents would buy a pocketful. She always sat on a small metal trunk, which we thought probably contained, all her worldly possessions, and next to her stood our Kadalay, then a mere stripling, with his tray of wadais supported on a make‑shift trestle. Credit was the order of the day and Kadalay Aachchi was accorded the exclusive privilege, personal to her alone, to go round the classes and beard the culprits in their dens to claim and extract bad debts.

Then in the 60 s Kadalay Aachchi died, plunging the College into a dense pall of gloom and so, by a most logical and equitable line of descent, Kadalay inherited her trade and was thereafter known by that name to the end of his days. Unfortunately, in the 80 s he fell foul of the Powers that Be for some misdemeanour and was banished from the College precincts and sold gram outside the boundary walls but his heart was not in that sort of trade and he languished before our eyes. However, he was not left out in the cold for long because an Old Boy (whose name I dare not reveal on pain of dire penalty) took him under his benevolent and expansive wing and employed Kadalay in a sinecure that kept him solvent and going till death claimed him.

Nobody knew, or as far as I am aware, knows to a certainly, what Kadalay's real name was, what his antecedents were or whence he came, but in process of time he evolved into a Royalist to surpass Royalists in loyalty to the Best School of All which is Royal ‑ despite the vociferous claims of Trinity!!

Even now I see Kadalay before my mind's eye, clad in his immaculate and characteristic white as he sold interim sustenance to the chaps or as he led the cheer squads from the front on any grounds where Royal fielded a team which no doubt stimulated effort and thus accounted for many a Royal victory. His opinions ‑ be they on cricket, rugby, athletics, boxing or what have you ‑ based on a rare insight and assessment of capabilities and potential of sportsmen, were voiced loud and clear and many were the Captains, Coaches and Masters in charge who went by what he said and found almost invariably that he had been right! Wherever Royal went for any sport or any game there went Kadalay forsaking his trade and at his own expense to watch and cheer the Royalists and the school he loved so much.

Hardly anyone knew when he died and the final rites were performed as it was during a long school vacation that the fateful event occurred thus depriving generation of Royalists of saying their last farewells and honouring one who gave not only his heart and soul but all of himself to Royal.

"This was a man ‑ when comes such another?

Viji Weerasinghe
Royal College
April 2006

Thamba the Inimiatble

He led us with exemplary zeal throughout

M.T.Thambapillai, our Revered Guru , was on the verge of his 88th birthday when he passed away on April 19. Yet it is hard to believe that he is no more largely because of the tremendous impact he had on the lives of a good many of us, who came under his caring tutelage.

Moses Thirugnanasingham Thambapillai, to give his full name, or endearingly Thamba to all of us, was born in Jaffna on April 25, l910. He cut his initial teeth at Chundukuli Girls School and thereafter was nurtured at Trinity College Kandy. For good measure, he had attended Royal before circumstances compelled him to join Trinity. But what Royal missed in him as a student, she gained in ample measure later on when he joined her staff as an Assistant Science Master in 1946 and served her with dignity and distinction for well-nigh 25 years. He had a short teaching spell at STC before finally blossoming at Royal. He took over as master-in-charge of Rugby at Royal in 1947 when Mr.J.C.A.Corea, the principal was quick to recognise his capabilities. The principal could not have made a better decision as subsequent events were to amply demonstrate. Thereafter for over twenty years he was to influence not only the game of rugby at Royal, which he loved so much, but also the lives of every one of us, who had the good fortune to come under his care. During his stewardship there was nothing he cared for more than Royal rugby to make men out of the countless number of his protégés. To describe him as a teacher would not do justice to him. Rather, he was one, who created for us that essential learning environment both on and off the field, to enable us to learn of books, learn of men and learn to play the game.

He led us with exemplary zeal caringly guiding us to Man's Estate, as it were, along that straight and narrow path, exerting a rich influence of good, clean living with no rancour, no malice and, more importantly, no prejudices. He carried these wonderful qualities right through to the end. In his final hours lying in hospital following the accident that eventually proved fatal, he refused to give a statement to the police. I had occasion to ask him why he had so refused, which query, too, he dismissed with a characteristic shrug, referring to the bus-driver, who callously felled him at a pedestrian crossing as 'that poor fellow : he wouldn't have intended what he did'. Such was his magnanimity even in distress.

It is no exaggeration to say that he never spoke ill of anybody, though he was intensely critical, especially when he genuinely felt that an injustice had been perpetrated. This was especially manifest when any rugby referee made a mistake ( deliberate or otherwise), which proved costly for his team. Here, more than anything else, he was conscious of the sweat and toil that went into the hard endeavour at practice sessions, which was almost instantly negated by the referee's callous blast of carelessness!

His benign presence helped us to learn in no unmistakeable terms, to play the game of life, like the game of rugby he taught us, the only way he knew - in honour and dignity

His secret of good living, he used to always implore us, was a strict abiding, adherence to the four W's, as he called it, viz ;

Work : to which he was intensely dedicated. Those who were closely associated with him in school, particularly on the rugby field would assert with what meticulous care and concern he set about the tasks at hand, not the least of which was his untiring effort to set up the schools rugby section of the Rugby Union, assisted by Commander Eustace Maththysz and Dr.Larry Foenander and others who were in the higher echelons of rugby administration, who were his personal friends.

Walk: He walked miles on end to sustain a vigorous health, which he had in ample measure to the end. Ironically, it was his fervour for walking, in spite of admonition to the contrary, that proved eventually fatal.

Water: which he took in plenty to, as he asserted, cleanse the system .

Worship: which he did most assiduously to cleanse his mind and keep it on even keel. None can deny that he did things with supreme equanimity, treating everyone alike with no fear or favour.

Of course, he used to invariably add in a lovingly enthusiastic whisper the 5th W : the woman in his life, Lolita , his Lolita, the one behind his bliss, who stood by him in unrelenting support, unobtrusively for well-nigh 55 eventful years: years filled with the joy of living and caring, years with the bliss of nurturing four dutiful and discerning sons, who are now themselves excelling in their own chosen professions, while deriving the best of the qualities of their rare and wonderful father. Indeed, it would not have been easy for a humble schoolmaster with no supplementary income, and for whom teaching was a calling in life and not a private tuition business, to nurture them into the four quality products that they are. Yet, that he did so, while at the same time caring for all his protégés with equal enthusiasm, was his crowning achievement, so ably supported by his Lolita.

He also had the supreme ability to have a good laugh especially at himself, while laughing along with others, often recalling, with that very special cherubic smile of his, the rugby misdemeanours of a Bulla de Silva; a Ralph Wickramaratne; an irrepressible Puggy Gooneratne; a Summa Amarasinghe or an Abeysinghe ( Singho, as he was called ), who bound his rugby boots assiduously with coir rope for greater security! Yet he loved them all with a very genuine sincerity. His continued contact with his protégés was mutually rejuvenating. He was much sought after at most gatherings of old Royalists, here and abroad, not only because he was loved and respected by one and all but also because he was a superb raconteur, a more than welcome speaker and a good singer, whose stentorian voice helped to wrap the gathering together with a gorgeous rendering, inter alia, of 'Among My Souvenirs' or the 'Song of the Hypotenuse.' At all these gatherings he was most deservingly an honoured guest. For, by his simple approach to life and the concern for his pupils, which never wavered, he was able to reap a rich harvest of goodwill, a reciprocal concern and unmitigated respect from them.

He never missed our annual '54 Group rendezvous, except when abroad, where he used to regale us as usual with his wry humour and the never ending fund of stories of the past and the present, in the company of other great teachers of our time such as Lennie de Silva, Harold Samaraweera, Viji Weerasinghe et al. His one regret at our '54 Group gatherings was that he couldn't meet his schoolmate, and probably the oldest living Trinity rugby lion, John Hill, who was also on the staff at Royal and who now understandably prefers to lead the life of a recluse in spite of many invitations.

His contribution to Royal rugby cannot be easily measured. With an unswerving devotion he dedicated himself to developing rugby at Royal towards sustainability ably assisted by such great men in the game as Sidney de Zoysa, Summa Navaratnam, Mahesa Rodrigo, Geoff Weinmann, and Stanley Unamboowe for others to follow later on. It is that same devotion that impelled him to learn the finer intricacies of rugby football as the years progressed. When Royal was on the field his figure was unfailingly seen, with umbrella in hand, strutting up and down the touchline in a frenzy of enthusiasm urging his team onto greater success. Mrs.Thambapillai would surely have had to keep account of the number of umbrellas that were sacrificed in the name of Royal rugby!

It was hell to pay for those who made the silly mistake. These were reminded in no unmistakable terms that rugby was played not only with brawn but with brains also - a point that was sadly missed on some. But he never failed to compliment the good work done as well - all this in the interest of Royal rugby and with avowed concern to make men of us all

In the evening of his life, it caused him much pain to see his country getting dismembered and his fellow Sri Lankans maiming and mangling each other. Indeed, he was a true Sri Lankan. Everyone was equal before him - his sole yardstick being honesty, integrity and merit. None can ever forget those efforts he made to get his pupils at Royal to visit Jaffna to interact and integrate with their dear Sri Lankan brothers and sisters in the Peninsula. Royal cricket teams of the past would recall these visits with nostalgia. He was not entirely free of peccadilloes either; such as the ones he used to commit, in retirement, at glorious bridge sessions at a Royal nook at Nawala, especially when partnering his life-long pal, Harold Samaraweera, with whom he had a bridge partnership of over fifty years! Channa Gunasekera, a former Royal cricket captain and his pupil, could say more of these bridge sessions and the accompanying indiscretions!!

When I visited him in hospital along with his youngest son, Nirmo, he certainly was in some pain going through a traumatic experience, though seemingly stable and on the way to recovery. I had taken with me some photographs from last year's Old Royalists' Rugby Dinner, where he was honoured with a felicitous publication. In those photographs he was in the effervescent company of Summa Navaratnam, Mahesa Rodrigo, and Geoff Weinmann, three of his most loyal accomplices at Royal rugby, and who were among his best friends off the field as well. The photographs were an instant elixir! His face lit up as he livened to the occasion. Stories started rolling out in smooth, multi-faceted succession, his memory sharp as ever, never failing to touch on the minutest of detail of the glorious days of yore. He talked lovingly of his charges: of Roti and Bala, the reference being to Ratna Sivaratnam of Aitken Spence and Ken Balendra of Keells. He talked of mercurial Maurice Anghie, brilliant fly-half/centre in his day. He talked of H.S.de Silva as a fine chap and an equally fine forward; of Dudley Fernando, who, he said, was a special son; of Ralph Wickremaratne, who had unreservedly declared to him what a wonderful father he had been to him.

These and many more, who were nurtured to manhood under his magnificent influence. Indeed, he was a father to every one of us, who came under his care. He talked most endearingly of the men whose photographs he was now fondly scrutinising and whose unfailing and tireless endeavours helped him to make rugby flourish at Royal. Yet, for all that, those who really knew him would readily assert that he was not a man just for the rugby season alone. Rather, he was a man for all seasons: a veritable colossus who bestrode our world with a calm dignity and whose influence was very much a boon to all who knew him. Now, death has taken him away from us. There will never be another Thamba. But death has not, and cannot, take his spirit away from us. The Sanguine Spirit of Thamba will live on in the hearts and minds of everyone who knew him and loved him- and they were many and countless, the world over. He could count among his protégés, here and abroad, many who have reached the pinnacle of their careers or are well on the way to doing so. To say that he walked with the highest and the best is only to say half the truth. The highest and the best came in search of him for guidance, succour and the privilege of his delightful company.

Yet, he remained the humble self he always was with that Fussels Lane humility of a simple school master- the type of humility that was to shower blessings on all around him, after having thanked his God, just before he closed his eyes for the final time in the wee hours of that fateful Sunday morning.

With such credentials behind him, it is hardly surprising that the Angels would sing unending Hosannas for a man, whose life was well meant and well spent in the service of his fellow beings.

Vale! Sir. Fare-thee-well.

' To us you were so wonderful,

So wonderful and true 'We will always keep that cherubic smile that spoke a million among our souvenirs. May you reap the Rich Rewards that you rightly deserve.

ULK.

Daya Sahabandu

Life & times in Sports

Daya Sahabandu - Sri Lanka's number one left arm leg-spinner- one of the best in Asia

by Premasara Epasinghe

Tom Graveney, super batting star of England played in '79 Test matches, and in 123 innings, collected 4882 runs, with a personal best of 258, and an average of 44.38. In his illustrious career, Graveney scored 11 centuries and 20 half a centuries. He held 80 (eighty) catches, sent 260 deliveries, conceding 167 runs, he has taken 1 for 34.

Daya Sahabandu

This English batsman made a comment on a Sri Lankan left arm bowler and paid a glowing tribute to him. Tom Graveney stated.

"Your left arm bowler Daya Sahabandu, is easily the best I have faced in my 20 years of big cricket. I am positive, he should be able to find a place in any county side in England. No bowler could have bowled so well as he did on that plumb placid wicket", stated England's Tom Graveney, after scoring a century against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

It was undoubtedly, the highest compliment paid to a Sri Lankan bowler, by a world class batsman.

Third Asian, First Sri Lankan to pass 1000 wickets

Daya Sahabandu, became the first Sri Lankan and only the third Asian in cricket's history to surpass the four figure mark (1000) wickets in Sara Trophy Cricket. The other two are India's Bishen Singh Bedi and Pakistan's Intikab Alam.

You must not forget the fact, that both of them played in English county, cricket whereas, tall, lanky, unassuming, soft-spoken, Daya Sahabandu, did not get the opportunity to play county cricket in England.

Turning the score boards Daya Sahabandu's Division one club cricket record is unbelievable and fantastic. In 19 1/2 season, 253 matches he bowled 6,552.1 overs. Out of this, 1919 were maidens. My calculator showed 14,787 runs capturing 1048 wickets - Average 14.11. Brilliant Achievement!

Great Moments

There are two greatest cricketing moments in his life. Number one, was when he was selected to represent Sri Lanka in 1969, against MCC. The second was with grit and determination, he batted as a tail ender for 4 1/2 hours in an unofficial Test against India at Lal Bahadur Stadium Hyderabad in December 1975.

Great Teacher Viji Weerasinghe guided me Born on 28th March 1940, in Colombo, he joined Royal College Primary in 1945 and joined Royal College in 1951. J. C. A. Corea and Dudley De Silva were the principals. His first form teacher at Royal was Viji Weerasinghe.

Fatherly figure Weerasinghe, has guided many Royalists for more than five decades. The name Royal and Viji Weerasinghe, are inseparable. He is a great teacher. "I am indebted to Viji Weerasinghe", stated Daya Sahabandu.

Daya's beloved father S. W. Sahabandu was attached to education office, Western Province as an education officer and his mother Amitha Mendis Gunasekera was a housewife. His elder brother S. S. Sahabandu, is a President's Counsel. He started playing cricket with his elder brother Sasita, who is elder to him by four years. Therefore, he has to bowl at him most of the time. The venue was the background of their house at Charlemont Road, Wellawatta.

Edward was his first cricket coach at R. P. S. Later, he was coached by late B. St. E. De Bruin. He saw Daya Sahabandu's talents and made him a left-arm dual purpose bowler for Royal. He played for Royal for three years - 1958, 1959 and 1960. Daya Sahabandu won the Royal College bowling prize in 1958 and 1959.

After leaving school, he started his professional career as a play-ground Instructor from 1963-1977.

Rajamahendran - a genuine great promoter of cricket

On 1st July 1977, he joined Maharaja Organisation and still he is serving this prestigious company. He is ever grateful to the great promoter of cricket, R. Rajah Mahendran, Chairman Managing Director of Maharaja Organisation for all the assistance and guidance he has given him.

Mr. Mahendran, Very silently helped late Gamini Dissanayake "Yuga Purusha of Sri Lanka" cricket, to achieve Test status to Sri Lanka in England. In 1963, he started his club cricket career and played for Nomads under D. H. De Silva. In 1967, Sri Lanka and Leicestershire Professional Stanley Jayasinghe joined Nomads.

"It was Stanley, who really made me a left arm spinner. In 1969, I played my first unofficial Test against England, captained by Colin Cowdrey. I am grateful to Stanley Jayasinghe and D. H. De Silva for guiding me in my career", said Daya Sahabandu.

Daya Sahabandu was the undisputed king of left-hand spinners in Sri Lanka cricket team from 1969 to 1975.

Who is a left-hand bowler

In two fundamentals, left-hand bowlers differ from right. Their "Natural" swerve is into the right-handed batsman, their "Natural" break is away from him: the former is, on the whole, a handicap, the latter a great asset.

The principles of the Basic Action are Mutatis-Mulandis (Latin with appropriate changes) exactly the same for them as for the right-handers: So is the technique of spin and flight. But, whereas the right-hand bowler will normally bowl over the wicket.

By far the most common, and in cricket history the outstanding, type of left-hand bowler is the orthodox slow bowler who relies on spin and flight. The great advantage of this type of spinner is that he bowls, without a great deal of effort, probably the most difficult ball in cricket - the one that comes in with the arm and then leaves the unfortunate batsman after it has pitched.

Daya's outstanding contemporaries

As outstanding captains he mentioned the names of D. H. De Silva, Dhanasiri Weerasinghe, and Michael Tissera.

He picks T. B. Kehelgamuwa as the best fast bowler. In spin department, it was Ajith De Silva. Of the off-spinners, he says that Abu Fuard as number one. For leg-spin D. S. De Silva and wicket keepers Dr. H. I. K. Fernando, Russel Hamer, Ranjit Fernando and Mahes Gunatileke.

Believe it or not

Although, Daya Sahabandu was a bowler, his most memorable and unforgettable incident came from his bat. Believe it or not." He batted for four and half hours (4 1/2) and made 32 not out at Hydarabad when Sri Lanka played India in 1975.

"In the second innings, Sri Lanka were five wickets down for 195. I had a seventh wicket stand of 75 runs with Tony Opatha (64). I faced the best spinners in the world circuit. Bhagavat Chandrasekhar, Bishen Singh Bedi and Erappali Prasanna, in this match and we defied all of them, stated Daya Sahabandu.

Few Tips for Bowlers

What is the advice that you will give to the up and coming spinners?

Master the stock ball, properly, before variations are attempted. Study the wicket and decide the trajectory of delivery which is going to be your stock ball. This is very vital to become a successful bowler. Do not be afraid to flight the ball. Even if you give 10 or 15 runs, do not get upset. Batsman will make a mistake and you will be the ultimate winner," said Daya Sahabandu.

The flight has to be cultivated by long hours at the nets. It is then, that you will get confidence to flight in matches. Flight is more essential on hard wicket.

He tied the nuptial knot in 1983. His wife's name is Swarna Kulasekera. They have a son - Janaka, who just left Royal after passing the Advance Level Examination. He is now following a course in Information Technology.

Present Day Cricketers are luckier

During our conversation he told me, that they played as amateurs and for the love of the game.

"Today, with so much money at stake, there is a great desire to win. The standard of cricket has improved mainly due to professionalism creeping in. The competition is high. Because of more one day game, fielding standards have improved. Another factor is that the present day cricketers are luckier than us, in that they have more opportunities, more foreign exposure to improve their skills. I am happy that our cricketers are doing well", stated Daya Sahabandu.

Daily News 2004

Viji's Thoughts

Dear All,

I was present last evening at the CR & FC Grounds to witness the “Royal Rugby Fiesta 2007” project organized by the Royal College Group of 91, for all the Old Boy Groups. They had published a souvenir to coincide this event and saw this article written by Sir . Viji Weerasinghe and thought that I should share this with all of you.

Rizan Nazeer

Hony Secretary - RCU


DOWN MEMORY LANE


Having been within the precincts of Royal College, in one capacity or another for a total of 73 of my 80 years, the sprit of this wonderful school of ours has found its way into my blood and penetrated my bones!


I started as a student in 1933 at the former Royal Preparatory school from where I crossed over to the Royal College in 1939 and left in 1947. For the next two years I taught at St. John’s, Nugegoda while studying for examinations and was then requested by my former principal at College Mr. J.C.A. Corea to stand in for one of my own teachers – Mr. V.O. de Alvis Gunawardana who had retired prematurely and so in January 1950 I came to teach and what started as a temporary assignment became my life’s work. In 1971 I was appointed Head Master by the then Principal Mr. D.G. Welikala and in 1978 elevated to Deputy Principal by Mr.L.D.H. Peiris. I reached the age of retirement in 1987 but two successive Principals requested me to continue on a departmentally approved contract. Ten years later in 1997 I decided to accept the old boy’s request to work in the Union Office where I have been to date.


Mine has been an eventful stay during which I took the rough with the smooth and enjoyed every minute of it. If I were given a choice to live my life all over again I would not choose differently,

I have seen many generations of Royalists come and go, many teachers and many Principals come and go and I have watched the changes that the winds of the passing years have brought – but one thing has remained constant – the Royalist student community which has not changed radically. Let us bow our heads and thank the Powers that Be that the present Royalists from the Andersons to the Zaheeds the assorted Pereras, Fernandos and Silvas, Saldins the Pillais and the Weerasinghes are no different from their counterparts of earlier vintages and that they are even now laying in their personal treasuries of rich and golden memories of forbidden fruit which they enjoyed.


Let us all pray that the spirit of Royal will remain as it is till the end of time!


Vijitha Weerasinghe

Saturday, October 27, 2007

J P Obeyesekere

Senator, Deshamanya J.P. Obeyesekere passes away

The death has occurred of former Senator, James Peter Obeyesekere. He was 92. He was the only child of Lady and Sir James Obeyesekere who was a Barrister-at-Law, Advocate of the Supreme Court and the Chief of all the Chieftains of Ceylon and the last Maha Mudaliyar of Ceylon.

J. P. Obeyesekere received his secondary education at Royal College, Colombo and graduated from Cambridge University having read at Trinity College, Cambridge obtaining the MA (Cantab) Degree. He was a member of the Cambridge University Society and the Debating Team of Trinity College, Cambridge University. He was awarded a half blue in athletics at Cambridge.

As an accomplished sportsman, he gained recognition as a certified athletics coach. He was an excellent horseman and equestrian. In 1938, he obtained an ‘A’ Grade Certificate as a Pilot and became a member of the Cambridge Flight Squadron.

Having served in the Royal Investigative Force in November 1946, he flew alone in an ‘Auster’ Airplane from England to Ceylon. He was the first ever Sri Lankan to make such a solo flight.

Obeyesekere was a Founder Member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. He assisted the late SWRD Bandaranaike in the formation of the party from its inception in 1951. In 1952, he contested the Mirigama seat.

In March 1960, he contested the Attanagalla seat and won by a majority of 15,000 votes. In July of the same year, he won again with a majority of 17,261 votes. He served as Health and Finance Junior Minister and acted several times for the Health Minister.

Obeyesekere was also a Senator. He was considered by his contemporaries as an honest, gentleman politician.

He owned a range of vintage and classic motor cars. He successfully participated in many motor rallies. He was the Vice Patron of the Classic Car Club of Ceylon. He took an active interest in the South Movement and was a Former President of the Sri Lanka Scouts Association. Obeyesekere was conferred the National Honour of Deshamanya by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

He leaves his wife, former Health Minister, Deshamanya Siva Obeyesekere, son, daughter and two grandchildren.

The remains lie at his residence ‘The Maligawa’, 17, Rajakeeya Mawatha, Colombo 7. The cortege leaves the residence at 1.00 p.m. today for cremation at 2 p.m. at the General Cemetery, Borella.

Daily News Sat Oct 27 2007 - Obituaries

OBEYESEKERE - DESHAMANYA JAMES PETER (Late MP Attanagalla, Deputy Minister of Health and Finance and Senator), Only son of late Sir James Peter Obeyesekere Maha Mudaliyar and Lady Amy Estelle Obeyesekere, dearly loved husband of Siva, father of Peter and Chantal, father-in-law of Dijen de Saram, grandfather of Dhevan and Chiara. Remains will lie at Batadola Walauwe, Nittambuwa from 12.00 noon on Wednesday 24th to 12.00 noon on Thursday 25th October and in Colombo from 2.00 p.m. on Thursday 25th to Saturday 27th October. Cortege leaves "Maligawa", 19, Rajakeeya Mawatha, Colombo 07 at 1.00 p.m. Saturday 27th. Cremation at General Cemetery Kanatte at 2.00 p.m. DN Wed Oct 24 2007

Monday, October 08, 2007

R I T Alles

The launching of the autobiography of renowned educationist R.I.T. Alles took place at Hilton, Colombo to coincide with the author’s 75th birthday on October 03. Ther book is titled ‘My Life’.
Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe, Speaker V.J.M.Lokubandara, Chief opposition whip, Joseph Michael Perera were among the distinguished invitees who attended the occasion. Addressing the gathering, Opposition leader, Ranil Wickramasinghe said that Mr. Alles was an outstanding educationist and a principal who taught his students to take victory and defeat in life with equanimity.

Picture, above, shows Bogoda Premarathne,a former Commissioner of Examinations receiving the first copy. Picture by Priyantha Gamage. - LakbimaNews Sunday Oct 7 2007

Alles, affectionately known as RITA by his students, was a teacher at Royal College Colombo in the nineteen sixties while Bogoda Premaratne was the Vice Principal during that time.