Walter May – by Ernest Macintyre
A GENTLE HUMAN
Few of Sri Lanka today may know of people who passed away recently and were much of that society long ago. And yet those still left who remember have urge to leave public record, as tribute.
Walter May of Perth, Western Australia and of Ceylon till the 1960s, died peacefully a couple of weeks ago, in his ninetieth year. After a variegated childhood and fine records at Trinity College Kandy and St. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia he graduated with honours in History from the University of Ceylon with also an outstanding record as a national track athlete.
He reached the ideal conveyed in the poetic expression, “ The Paragon of Animals” for by birth and upbringing he was gentle, dispossessed of envy, anger or harshness.
My wife and I came to be a friends with his family when I joined the Royal Ceylon Air Force where “Wally” was well established. We lived as neighbours at the Katunayake base, and came to know his wife Anne who died over a year ago. Also, his daughter Heather and little son David. In those years the Air Force was all air and no force so we had a leisured time weaving together long-lasting social material. One that lasted long, right into Australia was “ Hounderanayagams”. Possibly because of Wally’s European parentage some tongue twisting Ceylon names he adjusted for ease and harmless fun. There was a family of Sounderanayagams in the vicinity. “Hounderanayagams” is what he affectionally called them.
We saw much of his family in Australia both in Sydney where we lived and in his home town of Perth, and whenever we met his greeting was “Ah! So how are the Hounderanayagams!”. It had turned generic for “friend”.
Walter May was a gentle human. Bless him and Ann. The mystic imagination sees them lovingly together again.