Appreciations | Daily News


Victor Edward Fernando: Man for all seasons

It is with profound sadness that I pen this tribute to my erstwhile friend Victor whose earthly sojourn came to an end on March 5, 2019, in Dubai.

It was in the late ’70s that I met Victor at the Annual General Meeting of St. Benedict’s College OBU in the auditorium. My recollections are of a young Ben who displayed much enthusiasm and promise. Our meeting marked the commencement of a Friendship which was nurtured through the decades.

Victor proved his innate talent and dynamism in galvanizing a few of us in venturing to organise the inaugural “Benedictine Nite” Dinner Dance in December 1981. The Dance which unfurled a new chapter in the annals of the OBU has continued to receive accolades since its debut and is widely acclaimed as a trendsetter in the country.

It was due to his permeating influence that several Bens of a younger vintage enrolled in the OBU and made a significant contribution. Victor served the following support bodies during his long and unbroken links with our alma mater: Old Boys Union, Old Bens Sports Club, Old Boarders Association, Lasallian Federation of Ceylon, Quadrangular Schools Committee, July Breeze 1985. I had the pleasure of witnessing Victor’s singular contribution to the above committees that he served with exemplary dedication and unswerving commitment.

Victor possessed a charisma all his own and was never weary of traversing that extra mile in “doing the duty that is to do”, as echoed in the College anthem. Victor’s organising finesse was all too evident when he formed the Old Boarders' Association teaming up with Herbert Weerasinghe (IGP) as the founder President and Rev. Bro. Matthias, the mentor of Bens Hockey, as Patron.

I recall with nostalgia being invited by Victor to participate in their social functions in my capacity as General Secretary of the OBU. The Association has continued the traditions and past boarders and families meet annually to relive their student days at College. Victor was a pivot in the mega committee that organised the “July Breeze” carnival on July 25, 1985, an event that literally took the metropolis by storm. The four-day event was a phenomenal success and Victor made a significant contribution teaming up with a host of Old Bens, many of whom have sadly crossed the great divide.

Victor and I formed part of the team that was selected to represent Old Bens SC in the Quadrangular Schools Committee from 1980 to 1990, building up camaraderie with alumni of St. Anthony’s Kandy, St. Joseph’s, St. Peter’s and rising to the occasion when it was our turn to host the weekend bonanza in Kotahena. Victor‘s unbridled enthusiasm and flair for organising events were edifying.

In later years, when our paths crossed, Victor sought greener pastures in Dubai moving there with his wife Aloma and children Vishan, Vinoma and Virosh. Victor lost no time in inviting all Old Bens and took the initiative of forming an OBU Branch. The response was spontaneous with members and families meeting at social functions and sporting activities with alacrity.

The Bens under Victor’s leadership generously responded to calls from their alma mater for funding projects at College in unison with the global Benedictine family. It is hoped that the OBU in Dubai will continue the legacy left behind by their founder President.

I had the privilege of proposing the toast to dear Victor across the airwaves to Dubai on April 7, 2017, on the joyous occasion of his reaching the Psalmist’s tally of three scores and ten. In hindsight, it was to be a valedictory message to a trusted and endearing friend.

Victor was a man for all seasons and his signature smile will always be remembered by his coterie of fellow Bens and friends. His demise has left a void that will be hard to fill.

An apt quote, “In the end, it is not the years in your life that count—it’s the life in your years.”

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

Eric Motha,

Linnette de S. Wijeyeratne: Woman of unwavering will

The morning light comes stealing
To start a new day
Out there the world is waiting
To take you far away

We thank God every day for blessing us with you as our amazing mom. However, time with you will never be enough; we will always wish for one more hug, one more laugh—but above all—for one more day! With your last breath, the world around us tumbled with no one to call mom.

She was the daughter of the late Dorothy and Artie Peiris of Moratuwa, a descendant of the late C.H. de Soysa, and the wife of Sherad. I am sure she would have been the oldest living past pupil of Ladies College, Colombo 7.

As a mother to a dozen, mother-in-law to nine, as well as a grand and great grandmom to twenty-one, you embedded your footprint effortlessly with grace.

Your love and courage changed our lives; during challenging times you stood by us like the rock of Gibraltar. You were meticulous in household chores, our best chef, and seamstress. You laboured night and day to make new dresses for each daughter, especially to wear for midnight mass on Christmas day.

You were so proud to see us wearing your creations but we in return started comparing and whined when we should have praised your tireless efforts and hugged you. Mom, you brushed it aside saying that’s part and parcel of growing up, and we soon learnt this lesson when we became moms.

When Anne was sick you called us and said, “Manage the household chores as my priority is being with my sick child”. You were with her in hospital straight for 9 months. All that you taught us enabled us to carry on with Dad captaining the ship. You sacrificed so much to put her back to good health but God had other plans. As a mother witnessing the loss of her child must have been terrible, but you remained resilient.We are sure with her parting, a part of your world would have collapsed and since then at every family function you would have shed a silent tear; however, you showed us a brave face.

When Dad passed away three decades ago there were so many incomplete tasks thrust upon you and only God knows the inner strength you had to complete them. Your strength and smile even on darkest days made us realise that you were the impenetrable support system protecting and guiding us. You are our angel, who will always continue to walk and protect.

For you, the precious gift was your dozen and the extended family. You loved us immensely and your happiness was to be surrounded by us and reminisce the pranks we did during our childhood.

God said“ Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest “ but I am sure mom you did not want to leave your special child—Naomi; you held on tight until all your strength was gone, and could no longer hold on, but finally you slipped away quietly. We promise you mom we will take care of her as you did and we are sure you will look down upon her from heaven and be her newest guardian angel from now on.

As you take your last journey which is our toughest walk we thank you, dear Lord, for this gorgeous gift wrapped with grace, love, patience, compassion, humbleness that was handed over to us. Thank you, mom, for being our biggest fan, nightingale, guru and best friend.

We miss you but assure you that we will carry on with your memories forever until we meet in that land where there is no parting. Until then goodbye and rest in peace! Love you loads!

Your dozen




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