It was with profound sadness the message went around in the early hours of May 15, 2015 of the sudden demise of Dr. Mervyn Gunasekara who has made outstanding contributions to society. He was a well known personality amongst the intellectuals and especially amongst the professionals in the field of Engineering. Mervyn was a brilliant student at Isipathana College, joined the Engineering Faculty of the Peradeniya Campus in 1970. Even from his early schooldays he was admired for his outstanding capabilities, and gained admiration of the Principals of that era. Mervyn was the Captain of the Sinhala Debating Team, President of the College Buddhist Society and was a Senior Prefect.
During school days he was four years my senior. The privilege of my getting to know Mervyn closely was only after joining the College OBA Executive Committee in the late 80s. I could experience Mervyn’s great intelligence, commitment and dedication towards the undertaking as well as his true love, passion and gratitude for his Alma Mater. I could state with much appreciation without any hesitation that efforts of Mervyn, not only benefited us immensely in putting the key facts and achievements of college’s 38 year history on record, but also to bring in close warm relationship amongst the Old Boys and the Past Teachers, as well as paved the way for the establishment of the Past Teachers Association two years later.
Another instance where I worked closely with Mervyn was in the drawing up of a new Master Plan for the College way back in 1992. The final outcome was that dream becoming a reality with three new three-storied buildings. Since then thousands of children have utilized these buildings of the Primary Section, constructed as per the said Master Plan, but being very modest and true to his humble qualities Mervyn, did not mention anytime about his particular invaluable contribution and effort made to his Alma Mater in this regard.
Later years Mervyn established his own organization in the field of Engineering. His company, LAN Management Development Service was established in 1991. When the company was founded and in the first few months it was only him operating as one man show but with the winning of the first project he recruited a Secretary. Today proudly the business he founded has over 25 highly professional Engineers and positioned as a leading Project Management Services Company of Sri Lanka. Many of the major projects of clients undertaken by LAN Management Development Service are having project costs of well over Rs.200 million going up to Rs.8 billion.
But it is not the business founded by Dr Mervyn Gunasekara elevated him to an outstanding gentleman of par excellence in the society. His contributions to the society were by leaps and bounds. Professional contributions and memberships include, Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka, The Institute of Civil Engineers U.K., The National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka, The Institute of Project Managers Sri Lanka, Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Certified Cost Consultant, the American Association of Sri Lanka, Mervyn also served as a visiting lecturer to the University of Peradeniya, University of Moratuwa, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, University of Kelaniya, and other major academic institutions such as The Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka, Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy, The Postgraduate Institute of Management and the Institute for Construction Training and Development and many other Academic Institutions. He was also specialized in ‘Arbitration Law’ and was a visiting lecturer to Law College.
Until his untimely demise Mervyn also served as Chairman of Union Chemicals Lanka Plc, a public listed very successful chemicals manufacturing concern, winning several National Awards, a company founded by his younger brother Gamini Gunasekara.
Mervyn also did not fail to accomplish national duty. When the country most needed him, he served as a Volunteer Officer of the Sri Lanka Air Force, attached to the Fields Construction Regiment.
It is amazing how a person could do such valuable professional contributions to the society in such short span of time. He was most welcome by any institution or association and entrusted him with official positions and responsibilities with no hesitation, not only because of his in-depth knowledge, but also because of his genuine commitment with utmost integrity and honesty and the delivery of service was of par excellence.
In spite of all his professional engagements he still kept every Sunday dedicated to serve as a Dhamma School Teacher in his village Temple in Bomeriya and also have made immense contributions to his village school in Bomiriya where he learnt his ABC. Other voluntary contributions include impart with his in-depth Engineering and Project Management knowledge in the Construction of Temples, Churches and Kovils. In fact, two weeks prior to his demise he was in Jaffna assisting in the works of constructing a new Kovil.
With all his unprecedented services to society, Mervyn still fulfilled his duties to the family to maximum being a truly a family man, with much caring and love for his beloved wife Rupa who retired as a senior banker and for his son Ramal, a Civil Engineer who was provided with best of education and professional guidance. May he attain the bliss of Nibana.