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DSA Era Group 1959 to 1976, those under Wardens Davidson, Selveratnam and Annadanayagam

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Old 05-12-20, 10:13 PM
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Default Hector Francis Campbell Fernando

We were all proud to be this glass maker?s children

Hector Francis Campbell Fernando

When my youngest brother, Gihan (GAF), as a boy of six years, was interviewed by Canon R.S. De Saram, the Warden, S. Thomas? College Mt. Lavinia, prior to his admission to the College, and asked what his father?s profession was, he had replied, ? he is a glass maker?. The Warden like many other members of the community had got his ?glasses? from his one-time student, HFC, and knew what the boy was talking about. My father found this most amusing and related it to many friends and relatives. He knew that to many people he was indeed, simply a ?glass maker?!

He was the first Ceylonese to qualify as an optician in the United Kingdom. He returned to Sri Lanka just before the Second World War broke out. Until then this was a profession dominated by British nationals. Many young men who wished to be trained in the field of optometry, apprenticed under him and went on to become big names in their chosen field. He never considered himself a businessman and refused to set up his own optical business. He considered himself a professional and was very proud of his profession. Kindness and skill, care and attention marked his service to his clients. He established the Ceylon Optometrists Association, and became its founder president. The main purpose of this association was to further the professionalism and professional standards of those in this field of work.

My father and his four brothers attended S. Thomas? College, Mount Lavinia. His love for physics and optics in particular, he attributed to his beloved teacher Dr. R.L. Hayman, who went on to become the founder headmaster of S. Thomas? Gurutalawa.

Born on November 26, 1910, he returned to his Maker on June 17,1962. It was too soon. I was just 15 and had two brothers who were younger, and this was a time in our life when we would have really liked a father to be around. Both my sisters had left school, and one had just got into university, and all five of us found ourselves making huge adjustments to meet a situation that we had not imagined in our wildest dreams. But it was our mother who was devastated by the loss of a devoted husband. A teacher who never took any leave, she could not get back to work for over four weeks, such was the effect of this loss.

He was a wonderful father, who set high standards for us to follow. Not once had he ever raised his hand against any of his children. Even when it came to simple things like how you dress he insisted on standards. I had once slackened my tie knot and unbuttoned the collar button, (I was only 14). He saw me and he told us the story of how he had done this at school (those were days when senior boys wore tie to school), and his teacher, who also taught me English, V.P. Cooke, had made him stand in front of the class and told the other students, ?Look at this chap, he is neither a loafer nor a gentleman?. The lesson was learnt.

Next to his profession his other love was the YMCA. He was a loyal member of the Colombo Association, and many were the occasions when we as a family trooped into the YMCA building for functions involving the family. He took a special interest, in the Y?s Men?s Club of the Colombo YMCA. This was the service arm of the ?Y?. At the time of his death he was serving his fourth term as President. He was held in very high esteem by all those with whom he associated, and I can do no better than to quote from an appreciation written by the then General Secretary of the Colombo YMCA, Lennie Wijesinghe, soon after his death.

?Hector is dead and with his death we of the Association have lost a loyal Active Member and a sincere friend. Our Y?s Men?s Club has suffered even a greater loss for he was its President. It was under his leadership that the Club achieved its present status in Y?sdom. He carried himself with dignity wherever he went. It was not a cold dignity but one which was surrounded by the inimitable charm of a friendly personality. Indeed, this was one remarkable characteristic of the man. Nobody meeting him for the first time could think of him as a stranger. It would be correct to say that in such circumstances one was more inclined to look upon him as a dear friend. Such was the impelling force of the love that throbbed in him. Hector never gave himself airs. Simplicity was the very essence of his nature. And yet it was not of the ordinary variety, rather was it one springing from the depths of a kindly disposition. Nor was his spirit of service limited. It reached out to others wherever the need arose.?

May his soul rest in peace.

Eksith Fernando
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