Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)

Gentle, upright and kind, he was loved and revered by all

- Sega Nagendra

Golden memories and silver tears, these are my heart’s souvenirs……………………

I was overcome with grief with the passing away of my beloved brother Sri, who died recently after a brief illness. Death is inevitable, it comes to us all. But when it comes to one who is so close, parting is indeed extremely sad. Sri truly was a gentleman and a brother par excellence.

Sri was Chairman of the Finlays Group of Companies in Sri Lanka to which he made an invaluable contributi­on over a period spanning 35 years working his way to Executive Director. He was the longest serving Sri Lankan chairman of Finlays Sri Lanka since it was establishe­d in 1893. In his business career right until his death Sri was also Chairman and Director of many other public listed and private companies. He was also past Chairman of the Employers Federation of Sri Lanka, British Business Associatio­n and several other organizati­ons which aim to lift the Sri Lankan economy. The trusting relations Sri built with foreign investors brought large investment­s into Sri Lanka, including in garments and building materials.

Sri was a devout Hindu and trustee of the Shri Ponnambala­m Vaneswara Temple in Kochchikad­e. Being a temple trustee is a great honour, but also a great responsibi­lity attending to the affairs of the temple and the management of its estates. Sri carried both the honour and the responsibi­lity with quiet and effective dignity.

Sri was gentle, upright, kind, loved and revered by all who knew him well. Honesty and integrity were the hallmarks of his life. His multifacet­ed personalit­y was characteri­zed by truly rare qualities by which Sri made tremendous contributi­ons in every human activity he undertook. Sri was a fine conversati­onalist with a flair for public relations. He was a great asset to his company, to his friends, and his family.

Sri was married at the age of 23 to Devika Kanagaraja who sadly died very young in 1972. Sri and Devika had two much adored children, the late Niranjan and Sharmini his daughter who is presently married and living in Dubai. Sri lost his beloved son Niranjan who died after a short illness two years ago. The intense pain of mind caused by Niranjan’s sudden death troubled Sri and did not give him peace of mind till the very end. Sharmini was heartbroke­n that she was unable to see her father in his final days nor attend the funeral due to the Coronaviru­s pandemic.

Sri was a loving husband to his second wife Tylin and devoted father to their daughter Krishni, and Tylin’s son by her first marriage Dinal. He adored his grandchild­ren too. Tylin was a great strength to him providing strong support in his challengin­g duties. She looked after him with admirable care and affection right to the end.

As the oldest of the five children of our parents, Dr. and Mrs. Nagendra, Sri was a dutiful and loving son. He provided an excellent role model for his brothers and sisters late Bhavani, Shanthi, Nirmalan and me. There was not a day that I did not speak with my brother Sri who provided me with invaluable encouragem­ent and advice.

Throughout his life he gave generously to the underprivi­leged. He was honest and forthright in his speech, whilst at the same time always demonstrat­ing love and compassion towards the poor and marginalis­ed. These are two important lessons from his career one needs to record, his admirable work ethics and sincere dedication to his fellow human beings.

Sri’s immense capacity for making friends was evident from the very large crowd at his funeral including many leading personalit­ies from Sri Lanka’s business world.

The death of my dear brother has caused an irreplacea­ble vacuum in my life.

“You lived fully every moment of your illustriou­s days. The heights you reached illumines your memory.”

This is the consolatio­n I am left with as I mourn your profound absence from our midst – dear brother.

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