Tudor Jayasuriya - He led an uncomplicated life, with the simplest of needs

To have known a gentleman like Tudor Jayasuriya was both a pleasure and a privilege. Not having been fortunate enough to be a school-mate or, even a contemporary of his at the then Ceylon Law College, that opportunity came my way only because of that wonderful place called Voet Inn, the Law College Hostel. We were both inmates there, albeit a couple of years apart.

Born on March 31, 1942 in Matara to a family of four brothers and three sisters, he had his entire school education at Richmond College Galle, where he was the popular captain of cricket, in addition to being an outstanding schoolboy batsman of that era.

At Law College too, he captained cricket and took part in soccer and athletics.

He was the Secretary of the Law Students’ Buddhist Brotherhood, when the late Douglas Premaratne PC, Solicitor-General, was its President. Like most others then, they both belonged to Voet Inn. If not for his exceptional all-round abilities as a student, he could not have secured First Class Honours at his Law Examinations at the Law College, in the midst of such a variety of extra-curricular activities.

After having taken his oaths, it was to Tangalle his hometown that he first went, to continue with his brother Lionel’s law practice. Later he returned to Colombo to join the prestigious law firm of Julius and Creasy, until he was invited to join the Insurance Corporation of Sri Lanka by his friend Mr. S.S. Wijeratne, then a Director, where he rose to be the Chief Legal Officer.

He was later invited to join the other distinguished old law firm, M/s F.J. & G. de Saram, where he ended up as one of its Senior Partners, specialising in Securities, Banking and Conveyancing. He was an accepted authority in that last field, where many senior lawyers came to him for his advice and guidance. Tudor always willingly obliged them.

Tudor’s position and his personal qualities, attracted him to a large cross-section of people, from the highest in the land to the humblest on the street, as was seen at Kanatte at his cremation.

Among those who came to pay their last respects to him at his home and even spend a long time consoling the grieving members of his family, were the Bandaranaike sisters Sunethra and former President Chandrika. As Rudyard Kipling said, he was able to move with Kings and not lose the common touch. He was one of the simplest of men, unassuming and, shunned the limelight. When his colleagues at “FJ &G” wanted to felicitate him when he completed 46 years at the Bar, they used the ploy of requiring him at the office for the signing of an important document. Such was his simplicity.

It may be a surprise for anyone to learn that Tudor, at seventy plus years of age and in the 47th year at the Bar, had never stepped outside our shores (even for medical attention), nor used a mobile phone or a credit or an ATM card. He had an uncomplicated life, with the simplest of needs.

He harmed none, by word, deed or even thought. That may be why the deities spared him of any pain, despite the terrible illness that afflicted him.

There was that novel surgical procedure that his family was able to secure for him under foreign medical experts here, at a considerable cost, for he was more valuable than all their wealth.Tudor was a devoted family man to Dayaneetha and to their sons Dilshan and Hiran, both dear students of mine at the Law College and their beloved wives.

At almost all social events where he could take her, one could see Dayaneetha always beside him, like his eternal shadow, simple and charming, always with that shy smile of hers. She is sure to miss her closest friend and companion, much more than anyone else.

I have been at the receiving end of his kindness, like many others. Not once, but often. He encouraged juniors and wished them well. I will always remember him with eternal gratitude and wish that his journey through sansara be short and, that he achieves the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

May Tudor be born in our midst again!

By Upali A. Gooneratne PC.

(article credit to Sunday Times 1st of July 2012)

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