Daily FT

Shantilal Wijesundera: A sincere, witty, caring friend and family man

Franklyn Amerasinghe

The death occur red of Shant i lal Wjijesundera on 19 November. Shanti was formerly a Director of Lake House Printers and Publishers Plc, and latterly a Consultant, in which capacity he continued to be the live wire of the organisation until his sudden demise. In fact, on Friday, 17 November he was at work and we discussed the sorry state of cricket in Sri Lanka. Shanti was a staunch and dedicated follower of cricket, although in school, at S. Thomas he was renowned for his prowess at Hockey. He was proud that he had captained a team which was regarded as School Champions. Shanti was a loyal old Thomian and he compiled a book which set out the history of the Royal/ Thomian One Day Cricket series and also updated an existing history of the longer version of the game. These books were published by Shanti at his cost and given to the two schools to be sold so that they could derive the benefit from the proceeds.

On Friday ( 17) Shanti informed me that he had completed the Annual Planner for the Employers’ Federation ( EFC) for 2024 and would give me a few copies, as he always did. Way back in 1989 I saw a Wall Planner for the first time in New Zealand and gave a blueprint to Shanti and asked him to do one for the EFC setting out all the complicated information needed by our member companies. He put together the first planner which has continued for over 30 years now.

Shanti was also known to his friends as a compiler of comic books and has published more than ten volumes. Once again he did not benefit from these publications, except so far as to bring smiles and laughter to those who had the privilege of reading them.

I first met Shanti when I worked for the Employers’ Federation. He was holding a key position at Rowlands. After graduating as an engineer Shanti worked at the Commercial Company for many years. However, I got to know him intimately when he started visiting the EFC as a Lake House Printers and Publishers Director, and after my retirement from the EFC I served on the Board with him.

Shanti was a proud member of the Wi j ewardene clan having married Ayoma, granddaughter of the illustrious D. R. Wijewardene. For several years he was the organiser of an annual get- together of the family. He had great organisational skills and with his charm was able to bring together members of the family, who I believe found it difficult to say no to Shanti. He also compiled a book which updated and in many ways improved on the book on the ‘ Tudugala family’, which later became the Wijewardene family, with the British Government honouring Ayoma’s great- grandfather who was a leading Ceylonese entrepreneur.

Shanti in his characteristic simplicity and thoroughness planned his last arrangements a few months ago and I was privy to his instructions which included a private funeral without inconveniencing, as he said, the many friends, business associates and acquaintances who would want to pay their last respects. He once told me several years ago that if I was around to see him go I should write an appreciation of his life!

Shanti was truly a most sincere, witty, lovable and caring friend and family man. He leaves behind his widow Ayoma and two children Menaka and Niroshan who he loved very much.






Wijeya Newspapers