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DateLine Sunday, 6 July 2008

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Lanka’s oldest engineer passes away

Sri Lanka’s oldest Engineer who was attached to the Department of Telecommunications during 1920s, Edmund Charles Wijekoon passed away on Tuesday at the age of 104. Wijekoon had joined the Department in 1923 as a District Inspector of Telecommunications and retired as a Senior Engineer in 1962.

During his 39-year-long career in the Telecommunications sector, Wijekoon served at the Colombo and Kandy telecommunication offices.

It was during his time Sri Lanka started the first radio transmission station. The first transmission station was set up in Welikada and he was in charge of the Welikada Transmission Centre until he retired from service in 1962.

During a recent interview with Wijekoon and his wife Ratnavali Wijekoon (nee Sirisena), made by Sunday Observer journalist Lakmal Welabada in her weekly magazine column, titled `Darling we are not too old, though we reached the jubilee gold’, Wijekoon had proudly said that he never forgets an incident that he was able to repair some telecommunication equipment used during the World War II, where even engineers from England could not repair.

In recognition of his invaluable service he rendered during the war period, he was awarded a silver medal by Queen Elizabeth.

Wijekoon leaves his wife Ratnavali, two sons, Asoka, a consultant doctor in the UK and Senaka, a meteorologist in Australia and four daughters, Indrani, Rohini, Amitha and Bimba.

He also has 12 grand children and six greatgrandchildren. His remains will lie in State at his residence Elvitigala Mawatha, Colombo 5 and the cremation will take place today at 4.00 p.m. at General cemetery, Kanatte.

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