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Old 10-09-20, 05:40 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default O P Gooneratne was on the staff at Mutuwal & Mount.

O P Gooneratne was on the staff from 1906 to 1941. Mutuwal & Mount.

Was the Lower School Head Master from 1924 to 1941.

MR. O. P. GOONERATNA

With the passing of Mr. O. P. Gooneratna an important link that bound the old generation of Thomians to the New was broken, Mr. Gooneratna was indeed a landmark of St Thomas' who has left behind on the lives of countless thousands of Thomians who passed through his hands during 35 years of teaching the indelible impress of his remarkable personality.

Educated at Royal College, Mr. Gooneratna joined the Government Training College for Teachers, and was one of the earliest students of the Training College. On passing out he was appointed by Warden Stone to the Thomian Staff in 1906. It could truly be said of Mr. Gooneratna that he was born teacher.

He joined the teaching profession out of sheer love for it. At that time teachers were paid miserable pittances. Always immaculately dressed in white, he carried the gravitas of the Old Roman about him. In his walk and talk he was dignified and refined.

Although he did not identify himself on the field of sport he was one of the most popular teachers. He never had to seek popularity, but his dignified personality commanded spontaneously the respect and esteem of the boys.

Mr. Gooneratna was widely read especially in the Classics. It was a treat to sit in his Latin and English Classes and watch him draw attention to the finer points of the metrical compositions. He quoted freely from Shakespeare from memory. He would make the lessons live in the minds of the students by frequent references to contemporary events. With fascinating eloquence he would describe the glories of Greece and Rome and make the study of their dead languages vibrate with life. Old Boys of St Thomas' College who have had the privilege of studying at the feet of Mr. Gooneratna will look back with gratitude for the infinite pains he took over every boy in his Class, and above all for inculcating a love for the Classics and for creating in the hearts of the students an insatiable appetite for the rich treasures of English literature.

The writer will always be beholden to Mr. Gooneratna for 6 months of invaluable private tuition without which he would never have got into lower 4 (a).

In the upper school, Latin, French and English classes used to be a veritable treat. He frowned on slovenliness and was a terror to slackers. The cane played a very important part in his teaching career. However, with declining years many boys who were ordered to receive their caning at the end of the period were fortunate to get off because of his failing memory ! He had a very intimate knowledge of boys, their weaknesses and strong points ; and like every truly great man he suffered fools gladly. He had the great gift of drawing the best out of a boy by giving him the maximum credit for what he did know or had learnt. In a tribute to Warden Stone Mr. Gooneratna stated : "We also love him for the generous confidence he placed in us ; for did he not know that confidence was the mother of responsibility?" This was something Mr. Gooneratna himself practised. He also copied from Warden Stone precision of language and an elegant choice of words. Himself a stylist, he insisted on style right from the earliest stages whether in English, Latin, Greek or French. Prize Day at St Thomas' and similar occasions gave him an opportunity to make speeches. This he did with distinction and eloquence interspersed with humour. His sliver voice still echoes in my car.

He was the first member of the staff of St. Thomas' to be elevated to the post of Acting Warden. In 1933 when Warden de Saram went to England on leave Mr. Gooneratna acted with great dignity and characteristic modesty.

On his retirement after 35 years at St. Thomas' he took to horse - riding and motoring, in both of which pastimes he showed great proficiency in spite of declining years. He kept up his liflong habit of chopping firewood - like and eminent English Prime Minister - till enfeebled by age.

Farewell Sir, your memory will always be green in the hearts and minds of us whom you have by your unfailing courtesy, kindness and genuine interest in our welfare made your debtors.

A. P. GURUSWAMY
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Last edited by sriyanj; 03-10-20 at 11:40 AM.
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