TRIBUTEs | Page 2 | Sunday Observer


H. S. AGALAWATTE: Scholar, sportsman, gentleman

Sampath Agalawatte popularly known as ‘Agale’, passed away a week short of his 53rd birthday.

He was the youngest of three boys following Dammika and Manjulla,sons of the late Daya Agalawatte, a District Court judge and the late Mrs. Sumana, a proud homemaker. A much loved son, he was very dutiful particularly so during his parents’ latter years.

Sampath was a devoted husband to Dilhani and a loving father to Samali, Samal and Sahan. We pray they find strength and comfort at this time of sorrow.

Agale was the quintessential all-rounder at Royal College. An intelligent student who secured the much coveted Donhurst Memorial Prize for Best Student, a senior prefect, an excellent sportsman in athletics, badminton, 2nd XI cricket and rugby. Rugby was his preferred sport captaining the RC 1st XV in 1984.

Under his captaincy, the Royal XV were undefeated, sweeping all before them by winning back the blue ribbon of schools rugby, the Bradby Shield after a span of three years, the Gunaratne Trophy against the Thomian’s, the Philip Bultjens 7-a-side Trophy and the league champions trophy.

He led the team on a tour of Thailand at the end of that season. Continuing to lead from the front ensuring the team kept the “Royal fame inviolate” by not just winning all their games on tour but showed humility and maturity as wonderful ambassadors of Royal College, school rugby and indeed Sri Lanka.

For many years thereafter he ‘gave back’ to his alma mater as a coach of junior rugby teams (without payment) and was a regular volunteer in support of the Royal College Summa Navaratnam Junior Sports Academy, even up to earlier this year.

He intermittently represented CR&FC in the mid-eighties.

Upon leaving school, Agale joined the HSBC Bank, quickly establishing himself as an integral part of his new team. His amiable ways endeared him to a broader socio-economic circle and he thrived in the learning environment of the international financial institution, while carving out a corporate profile, leveraging his sporting prowess in mercantile sporting events. He subsequently joined MAS further consolidating his rapid learning of the business world as he moved up the senior management ranks.

The pinnacle of his career journey however was his time as Chief Executive Officer of TVS Lanka, a role he enjoyed very much as it enabled him to bring to the fore, his natural leadership attributes. He demanded the best from his team just as much as he demanded of himself.

A true “servant leader”, he would always find time to coach, nurture and mentor emerging talent.

Agale’s caring nature knew no bounds. Too numerous are the occasions where he has opened his home to family of friends visiting from overseas. On one occasion he vehemently insisted that my parents visiting from Australia stayed with him despite them having many options for accommodation with family. He later explained that he was the recipient of their hospitality on one of his visits to Melbourne at an earlier time.

Many would recall events of similar kind deeds. The accumulation of it all was indeed the essence of the gentleman. Making time to be with elderly parents of friends who he knew were overseas or just too busy to be there themselves. I will immerse my sadness in the memories of his calm and reassuring voice of reason; his cheeky sense of humour; keen sense of fair play on and off the field; unassuming matter of fact approach to life’s ups and downs; and his exceptional compassion and empathy for the less fortunate.

An endearing legacy of a life, taken in its prime. The good, they do die young, don’t they?

The game they play in heaven, just got yet another outstanding player with a heart of gold the size of a rugby ball!

Rest in peace ‘Agale’ my friend.

Ted Hiran Muttiah

Flt. Lt. T.M. Khalid, SLAF (Retd.): Fine sportsman both as a victor and as a loser

It is depressing to learn of the death of any known person, but it is more poignant when the person concerned was a fellow officer, who served his country and the Sri Lanka Air Force, well.

Flight Lieutenant Thawheed M.Khalid (popularly known as ‘Thaw’) was eighty-three when he passed away at his residence in Narahenpita on March 12, 2018.

Enlisting in the Royal Ceylon Air Force on September 12, 1952, he served in the SLAF Regiment in Katunayake and in the 1960s was a Weapons Instructor at SLAF Station, Diyatalawa. He was soon commissioned in the rank of Pilot Officer in the Regiment Branch.

During the Insurgency in 1971, at the HQ of the Coordinating Officer, Gp.Capt.D.B.S. Weeratne, in Hambantota, he was deployed as officer in-charge of External Security at the Ridiyagama Insurgent Detention Camp. The Senior Staff Officer overlooking operations, Wing Commander E.H. Ohlmus has recorded there was not a single escapee, nor any complaint of brutality or harassment made during the whole SLAF involvement with an enthusiastic band or regular and volunteer officers and manhandling administrative and logistics functions, Thaw had accomplished his task admirably.

He was a fine sportsman both as a victor and as a loser – a hard, fast and fair puncher. He represented the Air Force and Combined Services at Boxing, Wrestling and Rugby. The Xavier Roche Memorial Challenge Shield Boxing Championships 1960 saw the RCyAF Boxing team, led by Thaw winning for the Service a National Sports event for the first time.

Thaw served with the Air Force for 25 years and retired in the rank of Flight Lieutenant on September 12, 1977.

Thereafter he joined the Security Department of the Bank of Ceylon and retired in 1998. He was a founder member of the Sri Lanka Ex Air Force Association.

He was a versatile speaker and held his audience in comfort. When Air Chief Marshal W.D.H.S. Harry Goonetilleke celebrated his seventy fifth birthday in 2004, Thaw was among the many to speak at the illustrious occasion.

My association with Thaw dates back to 1952,when we gathered at Stable Hill Camp, Royal Ceylon Air Force, Diyatalawa to follow the No.1 Basic Recruit Training Course under the command of Flt.Lt.JP Howard,RAF. In early 1953 he was selected to join the RCyAF contingent to the United Kingdom for the Queen’s Coronation Parade.

Very smart and methodical in his ways, he sported an honest and obliging personality and was always willing to help. Surprisingly, he had a touch for the Theatre,and was even the stage manager for a play, The Deacon, produced in Colombo by the Wendy Whatmore Academy.

Among the mourners ,the many officers and members of the SLAF Ex-Servicemen’s Association, who paid their last respects at his residence and at the cemetery,was a fitting tribute to his character in life.

Flt.Lt. Thawheed M.Khalid leaves his wife Iris and two brothers (ex-Air Force)and will be missed and remembered by his family, friends and members of the retired Air Force Officers and Sri Lanka Ex-Air Force Associations.

“Well done good and faithful servant” (St Matthew 25:3)

Flt Lt WAM Dep, SLAF(Retd.)
Hertfordshire, UK.

A. Metthananda: English teacher par excellence

It is with utmost sorrow that we record the recent demise of A. Metthananda, a lovable erudite English teacher par excellence. He was a perfect gentleman, a leading light to many students irrespective of their age or profession.

We came in contact with him while he conducted English classes at the Gangaramaya temple around the year 1985.

He possessed a thorough knowledge of English, especially, English idioms and other beautiful expressions. His teaching style was that, he took a situation and taught a repertoire of expressions, and phrases related to it. There was no difficulty in imbibing knowledge from him.

His students were a motley gang, engineers, doctors, lawyers, army officers and others. They all had a great time, it was a virtual free-for-all to banter and cross sword in English.

Some of his students are now active politicians, legal luminaries, army officers, etc. He had great qualities, and never worshipped the shrine of Mammon.

His wealth was books and stacks of papers which contained English phrases jotted down by him.

Apart from the treasure of knowledge that he imparted on his students, he inculcated good qualities in us with life’s home truths.

He was always smartly attired and carried himself in a way befitting a gentleman.

When questioned about this, his answer was that he took the good things from the Westerners throwing the bad things away, as a swan churn out water from milk.

Once I was in a difficulty and when I sought his advice, he gave me a book to read, “Life, the Greatest Adventure”.

His motto was, “Knowledge is like a pocket clock which should be taken out only in need and after that it should be rested as before”.

Although lately he could not do his teaching with the great profundity as before, still he conducted classes despite his debility.

He timed and pronounced English with a mellifluous tone and we now badly miss his tintinnabulation and iridescence.

Thank you, great master, thank you for all what you have left behind indelibly in our mourning minds.