E. Joseph Percival Terence Perera:
A Benedictine legend of the 21st century
A past cricket captain, coach, gymnast and an army wizard bid
farewell to his earthly life recently amidst a large and distinguished
gathering at the Madampitiya cemetery.
He was honoured for his loyalty, commitment, dedication, unwavering
attitude and for the legacy which he had left behind for the future
generation to emulate. He lived a contended and a blessed life
completing 101 years, serving mankind with his talents and fulfilling
the will of God.
Late Uncle Terence as we most respectfully addressed him was born to
Mr. and Mrs. Illangage Gregorey Perera on 4th August 1910 at Mayfield
Road, Kotahena and had his entire education at St. Benedict's College
from 1921 to 1933 under the guidance and the tutelage of the De La Salle
Brothers. He represented College at cricket, soccer and hockey.
In 1930 he played for the College First XI under the captaincy of
Shelton Perera, and in 1931/32 under the captaincy of Sosimus Cruz. In
1933 Uncle Terence Captained the First XI Cricket team. His other team
mates had been Vernon Arnolda, Eric De Mel, Austin Gunawardena, Aloy
Perera, R. L. Perera, Emmanuel Roche, Gregory Fernando and two other
Surname's noted in his biography are Karavita and Almeida.
His cricket coaches at that time was Peter Pulle and G. V. Perera.
During his period at College Rev. Bro. Claude had been the Director
while Rev. Bro. Philip as Sub Director. At that time the primary had
been located next to the K. C. Y. M. A. named as Kotahena Mills which
was destroyed in the ethnic riots in 1983.
In the 1930s the only play ground which the College possessed was the
quadrangle. All matches played at the quadrangle was won by the College
team as the players were familiar with the ground condition, terrain
etc. The Railway and the Tamil Union grounds were hired when required.
In 1925 the junior cadets of the College won the Herman Loos Cup for
the best junior cadet troop where Gilbert Perera was the Sergeant of the
junior cadet platoon. Uncle Terence too was a member of this particular
In 1931 Uncle Terence represented the College First XI soccer team
which emerged as Inter-School Champs. The team had been coached by Rev.
Bro. Andrew and captained by Bruno Martin James and the team members had
been Aloy Perera, Kaithan Corea, H. L. De Mel and Eric Mel.
In 1933 after the cricket season was over Uncle Terence left college
and joined the Ceylon Garrison Artillery and had to undergo training at
the Diyatalawa Camp. During this period he was adjudged the best
trooper, on merit alone and was awarded the Gold Crest. After concluding
his training period he joined Walker and Greig Ltd. In 1935 he
represented the company in “B” Division cricket where they emerged
champs. Uncle Terence's contribution towards this success had been
During the Second World War Uncle Terence had been recalled for
military duty and was attached to the Ceylon Garison Artillery from 1939
to 1946. It was noted that this regiment had created history by
employing five brothers in the same family namely Leslie, Wilton,
Terence, Bertram and Irving to serve during the war.
In 1947, Uncle Terence rejoined Walker and Greig Ltd. This year he
opened a new chapter in his life by tying the knot with Rita Seneviratne,
on 27th December 1947. His beloved wife Rita hailed from Kadugannawa.
They were blessed with five children namely Tyronne, Christine, Delrine,
Adrian and Rosita.
In 1952, he had the honour of captaining the Bloomfield Sports Club
at cricket when the club was on wheels at Campbell Park and had the
honour of clinching the much respected and popular Daily News trophy.
While continuing to play club cricket Terence Uncle in 1955 started
coaching young lads at the Josephian cricketer Johnpulle's coaching
school at the government services ground nets situated at Parsons Road
and continued at Municipality grounds and finally at Bloomfield grounds.
In 1958, he left walkers and joined Lake House as a cashier. While at
Lake House he represented the organization at cricket, soccer and
He played a vital role in winning some of the important tournaments.
After attaining the age of 60 he retired from Lake House. After his
retirement he took up coaching on a full time basis due to the demise of
the founder Mr. Johnpulle. Thereafter, the School was named “Terry's
School of Cricket”. He was ably assisted by Tom Dep, Ben Navarathna and
Anthonian, Harry Jayasundara.
This School efficiently served the budding juvenile cricketers. A
pittance was levied from the students namely Rs. 5 or Rs. 2/= per month.
Some under privileged students were coached free of charge.
He also gave back to his Alma-mater what he achieved as a cricketer
by coaching the junior and senior cricketers from 1973 to 1975. The
First XI cricket captains during this period were Lalith Perera in 1973,
Basil Perera in 1974 and Rohan Wanaguru in 1975. Finally, he had noted
in his diary with regret that as the College did not have a Big Match
this drawback, had deprived the talented cricketers at College moving
forward to be members of the Sri Lankan Cricket Pool and representing
the country. At this juncture it is of paramount importance to note that
Uncle Terence's mode of transport was his push bicycle which he
cherished. Fitness was his forte and it was this aspect that kept him
going until he reached the age of 100 not out last year. The OBU and the
OBSC felicitated him fittingly on the momentous occasion.
At his centenary celebrations too he was able to move around on his
own. In the year 2001 when he had gone to attend a service at the Fatima
Church, Maradana he lost his push bicycle and thereafter he opted to
travel by public transport. He was a devoted Catholic and commenced his
daily work after attending the morning service. Complete faith in God
had upheld and protected him during his long sojourn in life.
We thank God for enabling Terence Uncle to complete a contended and a
blessed life on this earth. May his soul Rest in Peace.
Helping the poor was his guiding principle
Herman Theodorus Steur, a great philanthropist passed away after a
brief illness on March 25th 2012. He was laid to rest on April 9th. He
was 82. He was born with a twin sister to well to do parents in Holland
on April 26th 1930. Herman was a successful entrepreneur in Holland. He
arrived in Sri Lanka in 1979 to establish a shrimp exporting company in
the Greater Colombo Economic Commission.
One evening in early 1980, a poor fisherman residing in Uswetakeiyawa
passed away. Steur bore the funeral expenses. Thereafter, he thought it
fit to help the poor and the needy in Sri Lanka rather than investing in
his export oriented “Steur Products”. The Rev. Fr. Lucien Dep, the then
parish priest of St. Joseph's Church of Pamunugama told Steur that it
was more prudent to offer financial assistance to the needy after a
Herman implored his businessmen friends to obtain funds from Holland.
The proposed programme was called “Holland-Sri Lanka Family Help
Programme (FHP)”. Steur was founder president and Rev. Fr. Lucien Dep
was the chairman. Fr. Dep and Herman drew up a constitution to implement
this programme efficiently island-wide. At present this programme is
funded not only by the Netherlands but also by Belgium and the USA.
The first beneficiary of the programme was N. P. Mary Margret, the
widow of the deceased fisherman. Today over 3,000 families and the aged
numbering 2,000 have been adopted.
Herman visited many parishes in the country in the early 1980s to
form local committees to sustain his FHP. I met him in 1982 when he
visited St. James’ Church at Mutwal. Steur addressed the newly elected
committee and enlightened us about helping the ‘Poorest of the poor'. I
was very impressed by the gentle qualities of this foreigner.
He built the local office at St. Joseph's Church premises in
Pamunugama. His scheme offered monthly financial aid to widows, deserted
mothers with children under 21 years of age, those over 60 years
unmarried or with no children. The scheme has been in operation for the
past 32 years.
Herman Steur was honoured with the Sri Lanka Ramya in recognition of
his invaluable service to the poor. The Board of Directors felicitated
him with a dinner at ‘Villa Palma’ Hendala on May 22nd 1993. The then
Archbishop Dr. Nicholas Marcus Fernando, then Auxiliary Bishop, Dr.
Oswald Gomis, and Bishop Dr. Raymond Peiris also participated. The
Archbishop described Herman as an “Apostle of Christ” who was sent to
serve Sri Lanka's poor, aged and feeble destitutes.
Bishop Oswald Gomis described Steur as a ‘Big white man with a large
heart for the poor'.
In addition to helping the poorest of the poor financially, FHP
provides material for many “Homes for the Aged”, water supply projects,
funds for constructing community halls, pre-schools, vocational training
centres, libraries and computer projects for poor university students in
many parts of Sri Lanka.
In 1994 Steur constructed a home for destitute elders who had no
He named it “Netherlands Welcome Village for Roofless Elders” at
Wilagedara, Gonawila. This Home for the Aged was opened by the then
Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike in July 1996. He set up a fund for
tsunami victims in 2005 and visited the devastated areas. Fishing gear
and other equipment were distributed among the affected fisher folk in
Payagala, Maggona and Beruwela. He got damaged boats repaired and also
donated new boats. Around 2500 houses were built in the eastern coastal
belt for tsunami victims.
Steur had a good rapport with his employees. He was a strict
disciplinarian who would not brook any nonsense and would always call a
spade a spade. He loved music and was a class pianist.
Those who associated him will never forget his sterling qualities. He
enlivened those around him with his charm, compassion and light banter.
His demise is a big loss for the poor in our country.
His words still echo in my ears, “I expect to pass through this world
but once. Any good work, any acts of kindness or any service I can
render to any soul of mankind, let me do it now and let me not neglect
or defer such deeds for I shall not pass through this world again.”
May the soul of Herman Steur rest in peace and may he be guided by
angles to the most holy presence of Lord Jesus Christ!