Late Nissanka Wijewardane’s Legacy to Children
“If there ls to be peace on earth and goodwill toward men, we must finally believe in the ultimate morality of the universe,and believe that all reality hinges on moral foundations” Martin Luther King, JR.
The recent demise of Mr. Nissanka Wijewardane has brought us closer to thinking that death does become a part of the process which one has to go through . A man of the caliber of late Nissanka Wijewardane now belongs to a fast diminishing group which we often referred to as men of high ethics, decorum and morality, is today like looking for gold in a barren lonely beach.
Mr Nissanka Wijewardane showed us what we all who knew of him as a role model whom we tried to emulate in word and deed. The legacy he left behind holds much more meaning today especially at a time in our history when parents should take stock of which direction our children are heading to.
From the year 1948 when he annexed second place in the Ceylon Civil Service Exam, Wijewarda ne set his sights high at accomplishing his goals in life. Hailing from a well known family he knew that education, family and religion were foremost principles to adhere to. In 1949 he joined Import Export Control as a Cadet under Mr. N U Jayawardena who was Controller. Later he worked in other locations such as Trincomalee, Galle and Kandy as an administrative cadet.
He later served in different capacities such as Local Govt, Public Service Commission , Asst Director of Immigration , Govt. Agent Badulla and Kandy, Whilst at Import Export Board he was picked by Governor General. William Gopallawa as Secretary to the Governor General which he cherished much from 1967 to 1970. Buddhism was his main focus at the Governor’s office in ‘QUEEN”S HOUSE’ which “Bana” was introduced once a month.
Nissanka Wijewardena was also Chairman of the “Ran Vetta Project “around the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree in Anuradhapura. He retired from then Civil Service in 1972 and was recruited by WHO and was GM at Walkers Ltd. Later in 1977 to 1984 he was Chairman of The Bank on Ceylon.
In April 1984 to December 1987 President J R Jayawardena appointed him as Ambassador & Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York USA and also Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary to Brazil whist in the US. Amb. Wijewardane & his wife Iranganee (nee Madanayake from an influential family) were mindful of the Sri Lankan Community’s activities in the Tri- State are of New York . His wife Ira and he attended most SLANY events, and later were awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Sri Lanka Association of New York. Also the fact they were both to be invited by Rotary International as Chief Guests when I (the writer) was installed as the first Sri Lankan President of a Rotary Club in the US, brought him closer to the discipline of Rotary itself and in his own inimitable way he worked into the district hierarchy of Rotary’s “Gift of Life” movement. This was my post presidency period and at a highly attended conference the then District Governor & Chairman of “Gift of Life” announced, ” Ladies and Gentleman, using his gentle persuasive diplomacy, Sri Lankan Ambassador Wijewardane was able to convince the GOL Board that we bring to the US Sri Lanka’s first ‘Gift of Life’ child for open heart surgery here”. This child was sent by the Matale Rotary Club and was the beginning of hundreds of Sri Lanken children later benefiting from this program . This program “Gift of Life” has now taken root in Sri Lanka itself since such surgery is done in SL today. This is indeed a monumental legacy to help future indigent children to live a normal healthy life.
From the year 1989 to 1991 he was appointed Director General GCEC (Greater Colombo Economic Commission) in Colombo/On Independence Day Feb 4th 1992 he was honored as” DESHAMANYA” by the GOVT of Sri Lanka.Feb. 1995 he was appointed Chairman Janashakthi Insurance, a position he held for ten years till 2005 .
This illustrious carrier is attained not only by accomplishment and achievement, but religious fortitude as well.
May he attain Nibbana.
Past President – SLANY
Chairman – Gift of Life Sri Lanka, GOL International USA / Adviser Trustee Gift of Life Inc. N.J. USA