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Old 07-11-17, 11:14 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Rajan Yatawara

At college, Rajan Yatawara was a School Prefect, Co-editor College Magazine, Leader English Debating, Secretary & colousman 1st X1 Hockey, Junior Librarian and President English Literary and Debating Society.
He started his career as a management trainee at Hayleys Ltd. Was the Managing Director of Haycarb Ltd, a pioneering venture for activated Carbon and rose to the position of Chairman and chief executive officer of the Hayleys Group in July 2004.
We all appreciate the tremendous work load he did for the development of Hayleys Group.
May Rajan Rest in Peace.



From: Lakshman Watawala <lrwatawala@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 9:34 PM
Subject: Sad News of the passing away of Rajan Yatawara

Dear All,
It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing away of our
dear friend Rajan Yatawara a member of the STC Class of 55.
He was in the boarding in Miller House and thereafter became a day
boy. He was one of the founder member of De Saram House and was a
school Prefect and lead his house. He represented the school 1st X1
hockey team and we played in the same team. After leaving school he
joined Hayleys and was trained under late lal Jyasundera and was put
in charge of building Haycarb which is today one of the most
successful local export companies producing activated carbon for the
export market. He ended up by becoming the Chairman of Hayleys.
He was a regular member at our class of 55 get together from the inception.
We send our deepest sympathies to Rosemarie his beloved wife.
I trust that Tanky can give a more detailed write up on Rajan as they
were together at Hayleys with many other Thomians.
May he attain Nibbana.

Lakshman R Watawala

From: N.G.Wickremeratne <tanky@itmin.net>

Date: Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 11:05 PM
Subject: Rajan Yatawara

I am a silent reader of these columns but not a contributor of worthwhile comments. Lakshman has now put me in a spot with the usual finesse that he employs around February -well noted over the years by Rajan and me.

First of all let me wish that Rajan now rests in peace with God..

I can do his memory no better than to relate my first encounter with Rajan at Hayleys. This was when I was called for my last interview there to meet the Board of Directors for a final collective interview with other hopeful (hopeless?) aspirants for Management Trainee intake in late 1970s. This was for a Saturday pre lunch drinks. Competing candidates were a brace of Royal Thomians and Trinitians. Having exhausted my wits trying to engage any of those lesser gods - (final disaster being to ask our Italian Chairman how he was fixing his visa) I consoled myself imbibing of the best imported Gin on offer. When done I found my way down the backstairs, did a pee in the plush Directors toilet and got back to Perdeniya quite unaware of leaving all my worldly documents in the toilet. Rajan who always worked Saturdays found my file and had it sent back to me with a terse note saying.
'Tanky thanks for your contribution of paper to the Senior Toilet. We have better paper for our purposes. Returned herewith. Trust you may have better use for these. RY'

How I got a job after that is a mystery!

I worked 35 years with Rajan and Sunil Medis. Saw him build Haycarb. He helped me to build DPL. The present premises of Hayleys is what he built in the late 90s.

Mostly he built people.

I gave him a couple of glasses of wine at the last STC55 in March 2017.

'Thanks old friend.'


7th November 2017

From: Ekendra Edrisinghe <ekendraed@live.com>

Date: Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 4:50 AM
Subject: Re: Sad News of the passing away of Rajan Yatawara
It is with much sadness that I have learnt that Rajan is no more.

I first met Rajan when I was probably about 4 or 5 years of age at STC prep. We remained friends since then.

My wife and I wish to express our heartfelt condolences to Rosemary, Rajiv and Ronali


Ekendra Edrisinghe
21 Initium Road
Sri Lanka
Tel: +9411 2732462
Mob: + 94 777736701
Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smart phone

From: Christopher Dias <kittodias@gmail.com>

Date: Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 6:52 AM
Subject: Re: Sad News of the passing away of Rajan Yatawara

Rajan Yatawara - A gentleman par excellence, staunch Thomian, foremost Mercantile Executive.

His passing away is a great loss indeed to his family and all of us who had the pleasure of knowing him.

May Rajan rest in peace.

Esto Perpetua


From: Consultants 21 Ltd. <consultants21@gmail.com>

Date: Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 8:21 AM
Subject: Re: Sad News of the passing away of Rajan Yatawara

Dear All,

It is with much sadness that I accept the fact that Rajan is no more.

Rajan was a gentleman from his school days and was always pleasant company.

Death is the only reality in life one is compelled to accept.

May his family be blessed with strength to face this moment of deep personal grief.

Our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to them.

Nihal & Lilamani

From: lak Wij <lakshmanwij3@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 2:00 AM
Subject: Re: Sad News of the passing away of Rajan Yatawara

Dear All

Rajan reached the pinnacle of business success but remained full of humility to the end.I did not know him well but he never failed to come and talk with me whenever we met at our gatherings. That's the humility in the man that I remember and respect. A person with true Thomian values. Our Group has sadly lost a staunch participant. My deepest sympathies to his family .

Vijayalakshman Wijayatilake.
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Last edited by sriyanj; 09-11-17 at 11:31 PM.
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Old 09-11-17, 10:47 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Sad News of the passing away of Rajan Yatawara

From: Jayampathi Bandaranayake <jdb134@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 10:13 PM
Subject: Re: Funeral details

Dear Sriyan,

Thanks for the sterling work you do for the old Thomian fraternity.
Thanks also for the photo of the 64 Hockey team.
I am sorry that I will not be able to attend my dear friend Rajan’s funeral as I am currently in the US and not likely to return by till the end of the month.

Warm Regards
Sent from my iPad

From: Lakshman Watawala <lrwatawala@gmail.com>

Date: Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 12:06 PM
Subject: Re: Funeral details

Dear Sriyan,
Thanks for the details.
I am in Malaysia and will return only on Saturday evening.
Can you kindly sympathise with Rosemarie his wife and say that I am overseas.

Kind regards
Lakshman R Watawala

From: Kumar Ambrose <kumarambrose@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 12:16 PM
Subject: Re: Funeral details

Dear Sriyan,
Thanks for the updates especially regarding Rajan Yatawara who was my boss at Haycarb Ltd ,Madampe, an unit of Hayleys, Maradana.(1981 - 1983).
Some other Thomians who were with me were David M. Thomas, J.K.Perera, Kiriella.
Please convey my deepest sympathies to his family members.
I cannot forget the time he put his full energy to manufacture Activated Coconut Shell Carbon and sell them to the Gold mines of South Africa and Australia besides numerous water treatment/sewage plants.
He was a Pioneer and an Authority on Activated Coconut Shell Carbon.

RIP, sir.
A very tearful Ambrose

From: Anura Gunasekera <anuraguns@gmail.com>

Date: Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 12:31 PM
Subject: Re: Rajan Yatawara

After visiting the house yesterday to condole with the family and having met Rajan's son Rajiv-for the first time- i feel compelled to add to what has already been written by other friends/schoolmates/colleagues. Perhaps this is my tribute to Rajan's memory.

It was in a way a touching meeting which revived memories about Rajan, some of them from the distant past and long buried. I was trying to explain to his son, a young man possibly in the same age group as mine, my connection with his father. In the process, i realized that i was presenting to Rajiv aspects of his father that he was not aware of.

At STC we were always in parallel classes or the same class. Infrequently we found ourselves sitting next to each other. i remember that he was bemused by my general indifference to much of the classroom teaching and my obsession with other sources of knowledge. He was fairly diligent and i was not.

I used to admire his calligraphy- exquisite in the eyes of a man to whom drawing a straight line was the limit of artistic ability; particularly the style that he brought to bear even on the generally grisly drawings of dismembered animals-rats, dogfish and skinny wrinkled frogs - depicted in those large, square zoology " practical books" that we self consciously carried around.

When he was editor of the college magazine he was kind enough to accept some of my juvenile compositions- in retrospect highly pretentious as well- for publication. There was also a heated argument once, about the title of one of those articles.

Perhaps some of will recall the quaint custom then, of passing around " autograph albums", for comments from our mates. Mine disappeared a long time ago but, strangely, i can still recall what Rajan wrote in it- a line from a poem penned by an obscure Victorian era poet- "......the mill will never grind with water that has passed....", accompanied by an avuncular admonishment about being more industrious and, typically, embellished with a pretty line drawing of what represented a water mill. Thereafter, he went on to write a classification on every page- unsolicited by me- which annoyed me very much then. In retrospect, i realize that, that was very much in character, the early signs of Rajan's sense of order and clarity which was later to be reflected by an order of magnitude, in the enterprises that he so successfully led.

We had little interaction after leaving school, except at infrequent " old Thomian's " gatherings - Royal Thomian matches- mainly in special enclaves like the " Stallions" and "Mustangs". I used to meet him more often at the Hayleys premises several decades later, when i joined the company but the interactions were formal and circumscribed by hierarchical protocols. In between there were a few personal encounters, unplanned, when, well lubricated, we shared thoughts and views on a wide range of issues. My last meeting with him was at the class of 55 gathering in March this year, when Tanky gave him a glass of wine.

It always seemed to me that his consuming passion was what he did at Deans Road, a commitment which produced exceptional outcomes. Whilst being good friends at school, as most school boy relationships are, ours did not develop in to a close relationship in adult life. But he came across to me as a man who cared deeply about the things that he did, a caring which was extended to those who worked with him. I am also tempted to suggest that he deliberately separated his two selves, Rajan Yatawara the corporate leader and Rajan Yatawara the private man and fellow Thomian.

In essence, he was a truly decent and honourable man, simple in himself but very successful at addressing complex issues. He will always be remembered with much affection and great respect.


10th November/17.

From: Mohan Mendis <mendismohan1@gmail.com>

Date: Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 12:54 PM
Subject: Re: Rajan Yatawara


Brilliant and accurate. A worthy tribute. One senses the respect you and many of us (including myself) had for Rajan. He was precision personified with that gifted fist. Used for benevolent purposes only.

Many of the Hayley's factories, Lal Jayasundera has gone on record to say, were designed by Rajan.

Mohan M

From: Milroy Berenger <milroy.berenger@gmail.com>

Date: Thu, Nov 23, 2017 at 2:09 AM
Subject: Re: Rajan Yatawara.

Dear SJ,

Tx for the news.

Thanks for all the voluntary work you now have done for maybe​ ​20 years of your life. The family of
the late Rajan Yatawara were most appreciative of the efforts the OBA networks took to
share their news. My wife went down for the funeral and sent me a picture of Rajan's casket
with the College Flag. He was a great supporter of many things Thomian. Perhaps one of
Rajan's greatest contributions to STC was the heights he reached in later life and the standards
he believed in and stood for as he steered the fortunes of one of Sri Lanka's iconic companies
to even greater heights. He gave his staff of thousands something to believe in. Something to
be proud of. And something to strive for. All the lessons learnt at STC flourished at Hayleys
under his watch.

May his soul rest in peace.


Last edited by sriyanj; 23-11-17 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 03-12-17, 05:18 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default The great human being that he was RAJAN YATAWARA

The great human being that he was


Circa 1977, Barnes Place – someone was plinking the melody of ‘Amazing Grace’ with one finger on his sister’s piano. That was his favourite song then, and remained his favourite right through his days. He was no great piano player, but then, Rajan Yatawara was destined for much, much greater things.

Reading of (especially in the Old Thomians Forum) and listening to the many tributes paid to Rajan on his passing away at the age of 71 years, one could not help but realize that here was a colossus of a man. Someone who had achieved everything he had set out to achieve with a single-mindedness of purpose and direction be it in his personal life or in his chosen profession.

Much has been written about Rajan’s career at Hayleys – from his beginnings at Chas. P. Hayley at Galle as a Management Trainee in 1974, to his ascent to the position of Chairman of Hayleys PLC in 2004, so it would be superfluous to go this route. Why gild the lily!

Let’s look at the other Rajan – the schoolboy, the husband, the father, the benevolent human being.

Born on June 16, 1946, he was the youngest of four children of Dr. Jayampathi Yatawara and Daisy Dodanwela Yatawara. He had his primary schooling at St.Thomas’ Prep School, Colpetty, and went on to STC Mount to complete his secondary studies. He was into Cadetting, and enjoyed the many trips to Diyatalawa, which he would fondly recall – especially the puffs on the forbidden cigarettes which were procured for him by the obliging Armoury Boy who accompanied the platoon. His family believed he would join the armed forces, given that he loved to march up and down when a little boy with a broomstick for a rifle on his shoulder, and his obvious love for the uniform as a youth. But fate decreed otherwise.

Rajan, by his own admission was no “great” sportsman, but did represent STC at hockey, playing in the position of goal keeper. At that time STC was unbeaten in all its outings, and according to Rajan, he would fall asleep leaning on a goal post since all the action was in the opponents’ half. That was until they came up against St. Benedict’s College. As usual all the other ten players were in attack mode and crowded in the opposing side’s 25, when there was a sudden break and the SBC Captain came streaking towards the STC goal with the ball well in control. Rajan who had not been part of the action all season, was woken from his slumber by shouts of “attack Rajan” from the rest of the team, and “defend Rajan” from the Coach and supporters standing behind the STC goal. Rajan was confused – go forward or remain in goal. He says he finally ended up neither here nor there, and the shot at goal flashed between his legs and thudded into the boards. The only time the Thomian defence was breached all season – something his team mates never allowed him to forget, whenever they got together in later life.

Rajan met the love of his life Rosemarie, only daughter of Connie and Rose Manatunga during his Chas. P. Hayley days in Galle.And after a whirlwind courtship, they were married at Saint Mary’s Church, Bambalapitiya on June 18, 1970 with his future buddy for life, Hemendra Ranaweera as Bestman.

The latter had many a tale to tell of those bygone days – stories which he regaled us with in the course of the speech he delivered on Rajan and Rosemarie’s fortieth wedding anniversary celebrated at the Hilton in June 2010.

Both children married well, and in course of time Rajan was presented, first with a granddaughter, and then with a grandson, the latter aptly having “Rajan” as his second name. It was joy complete, the proud grandparents spending many a happy holiday with the grandchildren both at home and abroad.

By this time, Rajan had retired from Hayleys and became the complete “family man”, going out only when it was absolutely necessary or on the rare occasion to pop in at his favoured watering hole for a tete-a-tete and a shot of cheer.

Sadly, during the past few years, Rajan’s health became a cause for concern to Rosemarie and the children. As could be expected, he received the best treatment possible. But eventually even giants must fall, and Rajan passed away on November 7. The many who called at his home to pay their respects, and the crowd that gathered at the cemetery to bid farewell were testimony to the high regard that he was held in.

And so it was that as Rajan’s mortal remains were being gently lowered to his final rest, the assemblage raised their voices to the heavens with Amazing Grace.

Rest in peace, Rajan.

Isy Bahar
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