Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

He reached out to needy students


Mr. Lionel Samararatn­e joined the tutorial staff of Royal College in 1953. I first met him in 1954, as our Form Master of the class 2 Q (grade 7); later the same year he became a hostel master, replacing Capt. M.K.J. Cantlay. The subjects he taught that year were Sinhala and History.

He was a smart young, impeccably white-clad master with a stern look but with a soft heart, always ready to reach out to a needy student. As a hostel master he was a comfort to the young lads who were temporaril­y separated from their parents, at a tender age. He was a regular on the hostel volley-ball courts and the soft- ball cricket pitch.

He was also one of the Cadet Officers of the then Ceylon Cadet Battalion who accompanie­d both the Junior and Senior Cadets platoons for Company and Regimental competitio­ns held at Diyatalawa. The other Cadet Officers at that time were Lt. P.H.S. Mendis, Lt. B.G.N. Sarriffode­en and Lt. R.I.T. Alles.

He along with Lt. Alles created a sensation by enabling the Royal Senior Cadet Platoon to win the Herman Loos challenge shield for the first time in the history of the competitio­n.

With the Kingswood College background and being an avid reader, his knowledge and command of the English Language was unim- peachable. This ability of his was much sought after by numerous politician­s, high officials in the private and public sector, and even religious dignitarie­s eager to improve their English Language skills. He was subsequent­ly promoted in the Education Department as an English Language Inspector.

His wife predecease­d him by 37 years, leaving three little children, two daughters and a son, solely in his care and he stood up to the challenge, ably played the inevitable dual role of mother and father, and brought up the three of them as best as he could, as evidenced by their being well placed in society today - one as a Consultant Community Physician and the other two as Senior Managers in the private sector. He enjoyed helping the two grand children in their studies.

Later in life, he joined his erstwhile friend and colleague Ralph Alles and taught at Gateway College.

Simplicity was the hall mark of this quiet and soft spoken gentleman; he never wanted to cut a figure or seek undue public recognitio­n. Although he did not lead a religious life for the public view, he was a practicing Buddhist, who not only understood the tenets of the Dhamma well, but also lived by them.

May his sojourn in Sansara be short.

He was a smart young, impeccably white-clad master with a stern look but with a soft heart, always ready to reach out to a needy student

Dr. L. A. W. Sirisena

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