My first recollection of Reggie Abeyweera was when I was nine years old and my father built a house at Athula Mawatha off Templers Road at the then De Soysa Estate in Ratmalana. Mr. Abeyweera was one of the first residents in De Soysa Estate. Maybe a few years back, he constructed a two-storey house which was a luxury at that time for all of us to admire.
Later in life, when I joined Turquand Youngs (predecessor to Ernest & Young) in 1965 as an article clerk, I came in to real business contacts with Mr. Abeyweera. We knew each other from our Ratmalana Estate days. He used to drive a Vauxhall Wyvern at that time even though he was the Chairman and Managing Director of J.L. Morison Son and Jones (Ceylon Ltd). He didn’t have a driver like how the chairmen are driven to work today. Whenever he saw me on Templers Road, he used to stop the car and offer me a lift right up to Queens Street Fort where my office was at that time. Simplicity was his hallmark. He used to come for lunch to the YMBA building in Fort where Pagoda Tea Rooms ran a canteen. He used to always come in a short-sleeve shirt and a tie. From the second year of my articles, I was sent for the audit of Morison’s. I used to really enjoy my time at Morrison’s as Mr. Abeyweera used to come and find out about us and the progress of the audit. Thereafter, when I was made a partner in 1972, I handled the Morison’s audit until I retired in 1991. During the time, there was complete restructuring of Morison’s when it went from foreign owned co. to a Sri Lankan owned co. In this process, Mr. Abeyweera became the major shareholder with over 50% of shares.
Tragedy struck Mr. Abeyweera. He was blessed with three daughters and in 1983, his eldest daughter, whom he was grooming to take over from him, passed away due to a sudden illness. Thereafter, he concentrated on doing lot of merit for his daughter. He was also the principal dayakaya of Mallikarama Temple in Ratmalana. After his daughter’s demise, he was building temple after temple. Five years ago, he sold his shareholding of Morrison’s to Hemas. He is survived by his wife and two other daughters who I understand live in Australia. May he attain Nibbana.
H. Gamini Fonseka