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Old 12-09-16, 11:10 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Tribute to Dr. Asoka L. Thenabadu


Tribute to Dr. Asoka L. Thenabadu

- Sep 05, 2016

It is with a marked sense of sadness that I pen these words, eulogizing our friend & colleague Asoka Lakshman Thenabadu, who passed away suddenly on June 30, 2016; I was caught completely by surprise at this news, as I’m sure many of you were, hearing of it first via Deepa’s mass emailing and am grateful to her for contacting all the Medical College batch.

Asoka was a fellow Thomian as well, and hence was a friend of mine from our younger days. He attended S. Thomas’ from the very beginning, ahead of myself and others who came to Mt. Lavinia via S. Thomas’ Prep School in Kollupitiya, or others via S. Thomas’ Gurutalawa. In school, he was involved in a multitude of activities, and distinguished himself in scouting, earning the Queen’s Scout badge, the pinnacle of scouting for youngsters in school. He was very active in extra-mural activities for Wood House at STC, and was a debater, representing the House in many other activities as well, ending up as a House Prefect, thence being appointed a School Prefect. He was fair in keeping discipline at School, well looked up to by his juniors and earned himself many accolades that I will not detail here.

Academically he excelled, and was one of the 28 of a class of, I believe, 32 who earned a record number of Passes with Distinction in Pure Math at the ‘O’ level exam, an accomplishment that the Rev. Lucien Fernando, our Math teacher, regarded with pride. He was one of the groups of Thomians admitted to the Colombo Medical Faculty in 1963, having graduated from STC in December 1962.
A diligent student, Asoka was a fellow resident with me at Bloemfontein, the Men’s Medical Hostel, and many were the evenings that a group of us met informally for study discussions, in which he was an active and serious participant.

Graduating together in 1968, Asoka served his Internship at the Ratnapura General Hospital with several of us. I believe I recall him playing tennis there. He was well liked by both colleagues and Staff. Post Internship he was posted to Colombo South Hospital at Kalubowia, and after a stint there joined the Army Medical Corp. During this period he met his bride Manel Wijeweera, LLB., a practicing Lawyer, whom he married on July 7, 1975. In October 1975, he left Sri Lanka for the UK with his new bride, and added a DCH and MRCPCH to his MBBS degree from SL, eventually becoming a Consultant Paediatrician in Epsom, practicing in that speciality for some 35 years in the UK; he also became a successful businessman of sorts, setting up Stat Locums, an organization that provided Physician Coverage Services to both Practitioners as well as Hospitals, starting in the UK and expanding later even Down Under, I believe. Manel and he were blessed with two sons, one of whom, Sam, followed his father into Medicine, becoming a Paediatric Trauma Surgeon, while Chris, following in his mother’s footsteps, took to Law, and currently is a Solicitor in the UK.

Asoka had myriad interests; in addition to Stat Locums, a Placement Company he founded assisting Physicians locate work places, he helped visitors to Sri Lanka find and enjoy some of the abundant beauty of Sri Lanka, and explored areas outside the beaten path, such as whale-watching excursions from Mirissa. He lent his expertise to the Historical Society as well as the Photographic Society in Colombo, and doubtless many others in the UK. His interests were many, and he was well known to go out of his way to extend help and mentoring.
On retirement, he chose to return to Sri Lanka and live in Colombo to care for Manel, his wife, to whom he remained devoted. He was fiercely protective of his family’s personal life, and other than discussing it in generalities, rarely did acquaintances become aware or how he curtailed his activities in Colombo to be available to Manel. On a visit to SL after a hiatus of 11 years. I became aware of much Asoka’s generous nature when he went out of his way to introduce me to various voluntary societies in Colombo, of which he was a very active member, encouraging me, nay picking me up and taking me to many of the meetings, so that I would not become “bored”, as he put it, while on an extended visit of several months; for this I was very grateful. He also was an active Old Thomian, and remained so to the end, keeping up with both fellow schoolmates as well as officers of the OBU; his patronage in these activities was unstinting, though I became aware of how closely he monitored caregivers who were with Manel whenever he was away from her. He was always “on-call”.

On my visit from December 2014 through March 2015, Asoka escorted me to many meetings of Societies he belonged to; I also became aware that he was a current officer or past officer in many, and actively mentored many of the younger members or officers, giving of his time and advice without reserve. His passing prematurely at what I consider a prime stage of his life with so much left to give the many to whom he extended a hand is to be mourned.

Some of our group,either from STC or from the Medical College Class we belonged to, have passed on, and now Asoka will be one of these ranks, whom we, those remaining, will refer to in the past tense. I am proud to have been associated with him, and am sure his sons and siblings are too.

Esto Perpetua.
Chris Simithraaratchy
STC Class of 1962 (1953-1962)
Faculty of Medicine, Colombo Class of 1968 (1963-1968)
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