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Jayantha Fernando


Tribute to a Gentleman: Jayantha Fernando

Posted on 03 January 2016 by admin


An end of an innings was signaled when the last breath of life was snuffed out of all that was mortal of my dear friend, Jayantha Fernando.

Had he lived he would have surpassed the biblical span of three score and ten and exceeded it by another five years to reach 75 years; which would have been on November 2 this year.

Jayantha was the son of the late Mr. Lucas Fernando, who incidentally was a dear friend of my late father. Jayantha’s mother died when he was a child of five years. He was one of four siblings and they were his two brothers; Lancelot and Bryan, and his sister, Ula. They lived at Layards Road, while we lived on the opposite side at Anderson Road. Jayantha used to walk to school at St Peter’s College.

He was an outstanding sportsman; perhaps the best in our era. He captained St. Peter’s first eleven at cricket and whilst at school he played for the SSC. He captained St. Peter’s playing for the first fifteen at rugby and he played for the CR & FC, while still at school.

He also captained St. Peter’s College at tennis and was always a finalist in the men’s open singles. His opponent was a Royalist who captained cricket and rugby – Lorensz Pereira. Jayantha was also an outstanding athlete in the sprints and hurdles. Once again his opponent was Lorensz Pereira. He was awarded colours for the four sports he participated in.

On leaving school, he joined Keell & Waldock, as it was known. He was trained as a tea taster by the late Mark Bostock. It was after his spell at Keell’s that he joined A. F. Jones where his mentor was Merril J. Fernando. Subsequently, he joined ‘Ferntea’ which was owned by Merril J. Fernando and he continued to be a tea taster. After a few years he bought 50% of the stock of this company and subsequently, purchased the entirety of the company. About ten years ago a group of Malaysian investors bought in to the company and after Jayantha left they closed down the company. Jayantha continued to export teas from his office at Guilford Crescent until he died.

Some 15 years ago, he was appointed the Honorary Consul for the Czech Republic and was the Honorary Secretary of the Association of Consuls in Sri Lanka for over a decade right up to his death.

Jayantha was an excellent vocalist and used to sing at many parties, entertaining guests who would keep asking for encores.

He was able to fulfill all these roles only because he got the support of his dear wife Kanthika. Jayantha married Kanthika on December 2, 1968 and was married for 44 years. He and Kanthika have two outstanding children in Crishane and Shyamica and is blessed with two grand children. Kanthika was the guiding light in Jayantha’s life.

His greatest characteristic was his innate humility and tolerance for others. He was steadfast in his faith and deeply admired by his friends as he was never found wanting in the manifestation of his faith. He walked to church every day for Holy Mass. Here was a man who had all the trappings of wealth, the talents of an exceptional sportsman and lived a very simple and humble life. What an amazing combination of gifts!

His death will be mourned by Kanthika, Chrishane and Shyamica and all his friends, whose lives he touched. He was beloved of God and beloved of man and his memory will be held in benediction.

Farewell dear Jayantha; till we meet again on that distant shore.


Manik Pereira

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