DESHAMANYA DR KUMAR DEWAPURA
It is with a deep sense of sorrow I wish to record the demise of Kumar Dewapura, the Chairman of Tri Star Apparel Exports (Pte) Ltd in the early hours of October 31st, 2014 at a relatively early age of 63 years. Tri Star under the leadership of its founder Kumar Dewapura was the chief architect in spreading the garment industries to the villages under the 200 garment factory programme initiated by the late President Premadasa in the early 1990?s.
I wish to record this testimony of Kumar not as an entrepreneur, but as a Thurstanite.
Kumar joined Thurstan in the early 1960?s from St Peters with his elder brother Lal. From his younger under 14 days, he showed his talent as a cricketer and was requested by the Master-in-Charge of 1st XI cricket to join senior practices and soon found a place in the 1st XI team under my captaincy in 1966.He was a stylish left-hand batsman and a wicket keeper. He played 5 years for Thurstan till 1970. Though he made many runs for Thurstan in his 5 year career, he was unable to shine at the ?Big match ?! His ardent fan was his Father who never missed a match when Kumar played. He was very distraught when his Father passed away in the early 70?s.’
Kumar not only was an outstanding cricketer but he was also a talented rugby player and an athlete of repute
On leaving College, Kumar played for Nomads under his Thurstan coach Upali Ahangama and then for SSC in the early 70?s, with success. To take his career further, he was looking for an employment opportunity in the Mercantile sector, as it was the trend at that time for such Schoolboy cricketers. But, since he could not succeed, he left for the UK to pursue further studies. Thus, Ceylon as known at that time lost a potential batsman who could have made the national grade.
Upon returning to Sri Lanka in the mid 70?s he started his apprenticeship in the Garment industry under Mr. Ganegoda at Mayura Garments. Soon he learnt the trade and the confidence he had in himself was instrumental in starting his own Garment Factory ? Thushara Garments at Katubedda Mortuwa in 1979, with a mere 10 machines and 18 workers and made his first export consignment within a very short span of time. Soon thereafter, he commenced operations of his second factory- Tri Star Garments at Ratmalana.
Among his many achievements were winning of the Presidential Export Award for Garment Industry in the years 1987, 1991, 1992 & 1993. He also won the Special Presidential Export Award in 1992, 93, 93 and 1994 as the highest foreign exchange earning Enterprise in the Garment sector. At one time there were 42 Tri Star units spread across Sri Lanka with a workforce of nearly 26,000
With so many successes, he never forgot his ?Alma Mater’. In 1992 he showed an interest in constructing a block of classrooms for Thurstan and by 1994, a two-storied block of classrooms was built and opened. Thurstan College, who was without a play ground from its inception in 1950, was allocated a 7 acre block of land in the former racecourse area by the late President J R Jayawardane in 1985, as a sequel to a request made when His Excellency was Chief Guest at the Thurstan College Prize Giving in 1982. This was at the same time when Royal was also allocated an area for their now built Sports Complex. This land was finally handed over to Thurstan in 1998. As there was a need to construct a cricket ground in the allocated land, Kumar suggested that a fund raiser be commenced and invited the then Principal and Secretary of the OBU to England to coincide with the Annual Sri Lanka Schools? Cricket festival in July 2004, where they could meet many Thurstanites domiciled in UK. With this initiative of Kumar, funds were collected in UK and Thurstanites living in Sri Lanka as well as all over the world too, chipped in and thus the Cricket ground became a reality in 2006. This was all due to Kumar?s drive and initiative which spurred other old boys to lend a hand. Kumar then decided that he will build a Pavilion for the cricket ground and this too was completed in 2009
Kumar not only provided buildings for Thurstan but also provided employment to his classmates as well as other Thurstanites too. In 1991, when Thurstan won the cricket ?Big Match? for the second successive year, he enrolled many cricketers and also other outstanding sportsmen as Management Trainees and trained some of them in the UK too. It is note worthy that some still hold senior positions in his Group of Companies.
Just prior to him being seriously ill, he was keen to build a Rugby Pavilion for Thurstan. Alas, this now will only be a dream!
The many who came to pay their last respects, including His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka, Hon Mahinda Rajapkasa, the Leader of the Opposition Hon. Ranil Wickramasinghe, Late President Hon. Ranasinghe Premadasa?s son Mr Sajith Premadasa M.P. and his mother the former First Lady Mrs. Hema Premadasa, as well as his numerous workers and friends in the Garment trade including the many Old Boys of Thurstan spanning many eras, bore ample testimony to the high esteem by which he was held, by everyone.
It is not only Thurstan that has lost a Stalwart who was instrumental in building and developing much needed & varied infrastructural requirements at Thurstan and also providing employment opportunities to his classmates as well as many other Thurstanites but the Country too, has lost an entrepreneur who provided job opportunities to many Sri Lankans and most importantly to the rural masses.
In the funeral service Hymn sheet it says in John 11:25 ? Jesus said, I am the resurrection and life. He who believes in me will never die?. This stands true!
Surely, Kumar will live in the hearts of many who had the good fortune of having associated him.
My heartfelt sympathy is extended to his dear wife Shereen, children Shion & Shihara and their spouses as well as his sisters and brothers.
MAY HE REST IN ETERNAL PEACE!
On behalf of Thurstan OBU