TRIBUTE: Dennis Carleton Nugara My close friend from childhood | Sunday Observer

TRIBUTE: Dennis Carleton Nugara My close friend from childhood

Alas! The vintage radios have fallen silent. The grand master of the art of rejuvenating post WW2 antique radios is no more.

But, now he is most certainly in the ether waves of the outer space, in the heavens above looking down with great affection and love on all those he sadly and prematurely left behind on November 10, 2017, his wife Sheila, sons Shane, Myron and Dion, his sisters and only brother back home in Sri Lanka.

I first met him in Colombo way back in the early Forties, when we were both students at St. Joseph’s College and we joined the College Radio Club, established by the brilliant Engineer Catholic Priest Fr. Ignatius Perera.

Fortuitously, his parents’ home was on Ferry Street and ours a few minutes away, on Silversmith Street, Hulftsdorp, Colombo. His dad was a senior executive in the Bank of Ceylon, and his mother, a loving and efficient housewife caring for the family of several girls and two boys. My own mother was very protective of me, as I was an only child and Dennis was the only friend who was always welcome in our home. We became close friends with the common bond for the love of making basic radio receivers, starting with crystal sets.

The galena crystal, the heart of the basic crystal set was hard to find but Dennis knew a friend who ran a radio repair shop, and had a ready supply of these crystals. Spare parts were difficult to come by after the war ended, but we found that the British Services’ Army and the Air Force war surplus parts were becoming available in some select shops in Colombo.

Soon we moved from crystal sets to valve radios as most of the ex-military stock were full of components, such as, resisters, capacitors and valves, all vital to make radios. These were powered by dry cell batteries, rare at the time. Dennis knew a friend called Naleem, who ran a radio repair business in Colombo and through him was able to get some rare military surplus dry cell batteries rated at 90 volts and separate two volt rechargeable lead acid types.

Dennis and I spent many hours listening to Radio Australia, BBC, Swiss Radio, Happy Station from Holland, etc.

These were the foundations, a lifetime of the active pursuit of a love and fascination, the art of making, listening and repairing radio receivers. Some names that come to mind are HRO, AR88, BC348, Hammer land Super Pro, Hallicrafters SX28. Dennis was the doyen of restorers, meticulous in detail and execution. He was unique among engineers in Canada, capable of renovating and restoring vintage Radios. A rare breed indeed.

He never hesitated to speak and discuss with me any technical problem and I was glad that between us we always found a solution. That I shall miss dearly. When he left College he worked at his father’s Bank and later at Brown and Co, in charge of motor spares. That enabled him to pursue his other love, repairing cars and motorbikes, and gained a wealth of practical experience in all things electro mechanical.

He met his wife Sheila at a young age and married her in his late twenties and brought up a family. I used to visit them in their house in Dehiwela and when I returned home from the UK he helped me choose my first car, a Triumph Herald through his car firm. After a few years he and Sheila decided to emigrate to Canada. It was a difficult decision but proved to be the right one.

There he was able to educate his sons much better than in Sri Lanka. His banking experience got him a good job in a local Canadian Bank and he settled down in Markham, Ontario.

An unforgettable experience for my late wife and I was when we were invited to visit him and his family and stay with them on a short holiday. Their generosity was boundless and we were both made to feel so much at home, meeting their sons and families. One of the highlights of our visit was the trip to the Niagara Falls.

When my late wife was seriously ill he sent her a beautiful Holy Rosary and my wife valued it tremendously.

During the last few days of his life, he rang me from his hospital bed and told me of his diagnosis. Never did I imagine that the end was so near. Sheila mentioned to me that at the end he displayed the most wonderful smile never to be forgotten by his entire family, a great family man and a true friend.

May his soul Rest in Peace.

- Elmo Joseph