Eulogy - Old Benedictine Ronny Goonetileke
|A lifetime of service and hard work|
Ronny Goonetileke was a highly respected, honest and straight-forward officer who was attached to the state service and who never bent the rules for anybody’s particular benefit.
Public servants of his calibre are extremely hard to come by and his loss is felt by his family as well as the public sector which he served diligently and for so long. Born in Kotahena, he attended St. Benedict’s College where he was a keen scholar and athlete and also excelled in sports such as tennis and table tennis.
He has credited St. Benedict’s College for the excellent system of education, discipline and religious education it imparts to its students as well for as the high caliber of its teachers. While at school, Ronnie captained the college tennis and table tennis teams and had the privilege of heading the table tennis team, when St. Benedict’s won the inaugural inter-school table tennis championship in 1950.
Ronny Goonetileke entered the University of Peradeniya in 1953 and graduated with an Arts Degree in 1956. He later on enlisted on the staff of St. Joseph’s College, Colombo where he taught for a brief period and thereafter joined the Department of Agriculture in 1957. His first appointment in the state sector was as Administrative Officer at the Department of Agriculture in Bandarawela and was in charge of all the agriculture farms in the Uva Province. Being a keen sportsman, he played an active part in the Bandarawela Tennis Club as a member, and won many awards at Inter-Club tennis and billiard tournaments in which he shone. He later held the position of Secretary of the club for a number of years.
After his period of service as administrative officer in Bandarawela, he was transferred as the Assistant Commissioner of Agrarian Services in the Matara District for a short time and later was appointed on secondment as the Deputy General Manager (Trade) of the Co-operative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) from the year 1967 to 1971. After his tenure at the CWE he joined the Import Control Department as an Assistant Controller in 1971. Following this, he was appointed by the government to the Sri Lanka Tea Board as its Deputy General Manager.
From the Tea Board he was called upon by the then Secretary to the Ministry of Trade and Shipping W.L.P. De Mel, to join the Trade Ministry as Senior Assistant Secretary under the able leadership of Lalith Athulathmudali and M. S. Amarasiri. He was later promoted as Additional Secretary to the Ministry due to his display of efficiency. During this period he was appointed as the Competent Authority to the Government Owned Business Undertakings of Colombo Commercial (Teas) Ltd. While serving in the Ministry in the capacity of Additional Secretary, he was promoted as Secretary to the Ministry of Plantation Industries and served under Minister Gamini Dissanayake and M.L.M. Aboosally. His tenure in the plantation sector was short-lived as he was reverted back to the Ministry of Trade and Shipping as Secretary in 1989, taking over duties and functions from Harsha Wickramasinghe.
After his retirement in 1995 he was appointed concurrently Chairman of Salu-Sala for a short period and then finally Chairman of the Export Development Board until January 2003. Incidentally he was one of the few chairmen who served the Export Development Board for over a period of seven years under Kingsley Wickramaratne.
Ronny Goonetileke is survived by his wife Seelanganie, who was a lecturer at the Department of Agriculture in Bandarawela and a teacher at Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya and daughter Kshenuka, son-in-law Campion Senanayake and granddaughter Mehara.
By SHARM ABOOSALLY
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