One year has passed since Ray Wijewardene’s death aged 86. In that year, I’ve been privileged to play a part in celebrating his life and preserving his legacy.
My main contribution todate is building the official Ray Wijewardene website, which was launched in time for Ray’s 87th birth anniversary. It can now be accessed at: http://www.raywijewardene.net
Here’s the promotional blurb I sent out to a few dozen people this weekend:
Philip Revatha (Ray) Wijewardene (1924 – 2010) was an extraordinary Sri Lankan who was rightly called a Renaissance Man. Educated at two of the most prestigious universities in the world (Cambridge and Harvard), he excelled in many different areas of human endeavour: agriculture, aviation, engineering design, inventions, renewable energy technologies and water sports. He also painted and played the violin.
The Ray Wijewardene official website went ‘live’ just in time for Ray’s 87th birth anniversary on 20 August 2011.
This informative website captures highlights of Ray’s rich and colourful life that covered different areas of human endeavour: agriculture, aviation, engineering design, renewable energy, transport and water sports. It promotes his vision for self-reliance, innovation and sustainable development in Sri Lanka and in other countries in the humid tropics.
The website introduces Ray as ‘a man for all elements’, and showcases his personal logo that symbolised the integration of the four elements in eastern philosophy: water, fire, air and matter/Earth.
It carries first person narratives written by five individuals who knew Ray in different capacities: aviator Capt Elmo Jayawardena, renewable energy specialist P G Joseph, science writer Nalaka Gunawardene, conservationist Dr Ranjith Mahindapala and biologist Rohan Pethiyagoda. It also collates links to tributes and appreciations that were published in the media following Ray’s death in August 2010.
In another section, the website has a photo gallery that includes many hitherto-unseen images drawn from the Wijewardene family albums and from various other institutional and media sources. These offer glimpses of Ray Wijewardene’s education, training, career and leisure activities that took him to the universities of Cambridge and Harvard, international service with the United Nations, the Olympic and Asian games and the grassroots in Sri Lanka.
The website was conceived and built by the Colombo-based non-profit media foundation TVE Asia Pacific. It is an entirely voluntary effort that involved the collaboration of many individuals from different backgrounds and geographical locations. Information and images were sourced from Ray’s family members, friends and associates.
More information, photographs and videos are to be added as new material becomes available. The website actively seeks memories, anecdotes and images for the Ray biography compilation project that is now underway.
The Ray Wijewardene Charitable Trust (RWCT) was established in early 2011 to promote Ray’s vision and ideas in Sri Lanka. The Trust will support innovation in areas that were close to Ray’s heart. This website is the Trust’s first public activity to preserve Ray’s legacy.