Dr. Abahaya Attanayake

Ever kind and generous

In the early morning of September 15, Dr. Abhaya Attanayake peacefully passed away surrounded by his family following a brief illness. Born on August 15, 1935, in Welimada, Sri Lanka, he was the oldest son of late H.B. and V.B. Attanayake and had two younger sisters: Swarana and Chitra (deceased).

He completed his secondary education at St. Peter’s College in Colombo and went on to complete his undergraduate studies with honours in Geography at the University of Peradeniya. He also met his wife of 56-plus years Chandra Munasingha at Peradeniya. He excelled in his academics at the university; his immense artistic talents surfaced, and he also became well-known for his theatrical performances with Professor Sarachchandra.

Upon graduation, Dr. Attanayake commenced his professional career as a Lecturer at the Sri Jayawardenepura University. In 1964, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and completed his Master’s Degree at the University of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, in Cartography. He followed this with a PhD in Geography at the same University. He returned to Sri Lanka with his wife, who earned similar postgraduate degrees, as well as his two daughters, in 1976; his son was born upon their return to Sri Lanka.

In 1981, he accepted the position of Director of the Planning and Monitoring Unit of the ‘Accelerated Mahaweli Project’. During his tenure, Dr. Attanayake also completed a Post-Doctoral Senior Management Degree at the University of Ontario, Canada. He excelled in this position over a decade, bringing his extensive qualifications, knowledge, and leadership skills to create a world-renowned Division.

Following this, he took over the helm of the Sri Lanka Business Development Corporation before retiring in 1995. During his retirement, Dr. Attanayake kept himself busy by completing a number of international consulting projects with JICA and USAID, while also engaging in social service projects with the Mirihana Lions Club. He also collaborated with a group of his peers, creating a small revolving loan fund and advisory agency called IDEAS to support local entrepreneurs.

He took incredible pride and joy in his three children Gaurie, Maulie (Sidath), Yahas (Liz), as well as their families; he loved watching his six grandchildren Deshana, Lochana, Saji, Ishan, Ajith, and Samanthi grow. He was very fortunate that his health allowed him to regularly travel to the United States to visit his children and their families.

In Sri Lanka, he was very close to his daughter Maulie and her family, as well as his many relatives. Dr. Attanayake was loved dearly for his kindness, charm, and generosity. He always had a good word for everyone and loved storytelling. Dr. Abhaya Attanayake led an exemplary life and will be terribly missed by his loved ones.