Death of Dr. Seevali Ratwatte


Dr. Seevali Hansasara Ratwatte, Chairman of the Upali Group of Companies, died yesterday at a private hospital in Colombo. He was 91.

Born on November 24, 1923, he was the son of Balangoda Barnes Ratwatte and Rosman Mahawalatenna. He was the fifth in a family of four brothers and three sisters.

The world’s first woman Prime Minister, the late Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the elder sister of Dr. Ratwatte.

He received his primary education at the Colombo St. Bridget’s Convent and later at Trinity College, Kandy.

After his higher studies at Trinity College, he entered the Colombo Medical College and passed out a doctor. As a medical practitioner, he served both the government and private sectors with distinction.

He worked as a doctor in government hospitals until the mid 1970s, and later joined Unilever as the company doctor.

Dr. Ratwatte was a popular figure amongst his patients while in government service and later in the private sector and his care, personal attention and profound commitment to his job were widely admired.

While working for Unilever, he had the rare honor of being appointed Director-General of Sri Lanka’s first Export Processing Zone. He also rendered yeoman service as a director of the Greater Colombo Economic Commission (GCEC), which was headed by his son-in-law, Upali Wijewardena.

Later, Dr. Ratwatte served in an Export Processing Zone in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, but with the disappearance of Upali Wijewardena, he returned to Sri Lanka to take over as the Chairman of Upali Group of Companies.

As a simple, sincere and unassuming person, his tenure as Chairman will be remembered for the close rapport he developed with his employees, for whom he had immense love and respect. Many were times that Dr. Ratwatte got personally involved to resolve even their personal problems.

Married to Seetha Rohini Ellawala of Ellawala in Ratnapura, he was the father of two daughters. The elder daughter is Lakmani Ratwatte Wijewardena Welgama, while the younger daughter is Eranthika Sirimavo Kelegama.

Lakmani Ratwatte is married to Nimal Welgama, Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom and Managing Director of Upali Group of Companies, while Eranthika is married to Dr. Saman Kelegama, a director of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).

The late Dr. Ratwatte had three grandchildren – Chandana Kelegama, Jayathri Kelegama and Karishma Welgama.

He took the lead in Buddhist religious affairs and was also in the forefront in doing meritorious activities.

The funeral of Dr. Ratwatte will take place tomorrow (Monday, November 17) at 3 pm at the General Cemetery Borella.

Cortege will leave residence, No. 12, Shady Grove Avenue (adjoining Castle Hospital).

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