The Brisbane Sri Lankan community is mourning the passing of one of their guiding lights, Lal Mendis, on Friday, December 1, after a brief illness.
Lal, 69, was a dynamic figure who worked tirelessly to help better the lives of the wider community and in the country of his birth as a senior member of the Federation of Sri Lankan Organisations of Queensland. Lal held the position of Finance Lead and Governance in the FSOQ’s management committee. He also was the immediate past president of the Sri Lanka Sports Association of Queensland, one of the FSOQ’s member organisations.
His untimely death has left a deep void in the community, as he had been in the forefront of many fundraising ventures and social togetherness. Tributes have flowed in, and he has been described as kind, caring, generous and ready to give his time for any worthy cause. He was a loyal friend who had the best interests of the welfare of others.
He was devoted to his family – wife Davina, daughters Shehara and Ramali, their partners David Treppo and Oliver Bennett, and grandchildren Jesse and Alex.
FSOQ president Jay Weerawardena, leading the tributes, said Lal would be remembered as a close and caring friend and dedicated community leader.
“My association with Lal and Davina strengthened during our social dancing classes with RnR Dance Studio of Ruwan and Rasika of Brisbane as far back as 2010. Like all others in the class, Lal and Davina were dedicated learners and participated in a few annual concerts organised by the studio,” Jay said.
“Later we worked very closely at the FSOQ. As president of the Sri Lanka Sports Association of Queensland, he staged a very successful annual cricket carnival with generous funding support from the Brisbane City Councillor Angela Owen. His close association with Angela helped us gain funding support for the first Sri Lanka Day Food and Multicultural Festival in 2021 and in following years.
“Later, Lal served in the management committee of the FSOQ, shouldering the responsibility of Finance Lead in which he looked after the financial governance of the federation. In this role, one of the notable contributions was to work on our application to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission to gain charitable status for the FSOQ – an important milestone for the federation. When the ACNC approval finally came a week ago he was the happiest of all of us.”
FSOQ secretary Jayantha Weerasekera said Lal’s professional contribution to managing the federation’s finances and governance needed special mention. “He was a highly qualified professional financial controller who worked in high-end blue-chip companies such as Boeing. The FSOQ was fortunate to get his expertise in the management committee.”
FSOQ vice president Bill Deutrom said it was a sad time for the community.
“Lal had been with the FSOQ since inception and had been a very important member. He will be a huge loss for the organisation but more importantly the loss of a good friend for all of us is a tragedy as he was irreplaceable,” Bill said.
“This is a real blow to all his friends.”
Close friend Prasad Kodikara said the loss was hard to fathom. He said Lal was a beacon of kindness and joy cherished by his friends worldwide.
“Lal was known for his unparalleled generosity and was always the first to reach into his pocket. He transformed his home to a global haven and visitors from all corners of the world found solace under his roof,” he said, “In this difficult moment, may the memories of Lal’s generosity, laughter and genuine friendship provide comfort to all who knew him.
“Goodbye my dear friend. Your legacy of kindness and joy will indeed live in our hearts.”
Former Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka in Queensland Anton Swan paid a heartfelt tribute to Lal: “I have known Lal for many years and always found him to be a very community minded person who had contributed significantly to the Sri Lankan and wider community. He was very unassuming in his ways and a gentleman who will leave a big gap in our community. During my term as the Hon. Consul, I received unwavering support from him in my duties.”
“My family and I pass on our deepest sympathies and condolences to his wife, Davina, and the family. We will dearly miss you, Lal. May you rest in peace.”
Jayantha Pathikirikorale was left distraught. He worked closely with Lal and his friendship ran deep, as they shared memorable travel experiences.
“Lal brought a wealth of contribution to the societies with his professional expertise and knowledge. Moreover, he was a dear friend to all of us with his humour and kindness,” Jayantha said.
“The worst moment is when the person who gave you so many memories, becomes a memory. May Lal, our dear friend, attain supreme bliss of Nibbana.”
SLSAQ president Sunil Gooneratne, who took over the reins from Lal, said he was a true visionary. One of his most striking attributes was his meticulous approach to every aspect of management.
“In moments of challenge or decision-making Lal remained a paragon of calmness,” Sunil said.
“A true friend in every sense, our past president went beyond the professional realm to build genuine connections with colleagues. Their approachability and genuine concern for the welfare of others created a harmonious work environment. The camaraderie fostered within the team was a testament to their ability to lead with both authority and empathy.
“As we remember and celebrate the legacy of our past president, let us carry forward the values they embodied – meticulousness, knowledge, calmness, decisiveness, and genuine camaraderie.”
– Lawrence Heyn
In my involvement with the FSOQ and SLSAQ, supporting their projects, various fundraising dances, cricket carnivals and community events in the past 10 years, I got to know Lal well. He was always thoughtful, kind and had a keen sense of fair play. He also had a deep appreciation of the work we did. He will be greatly missed.
“I’ve learnt how much work he has done, working with FSOQ through his knowledge and expertise while holding several positions throughout his tenure. It’s a great loss for the community and all of us who are continuously looking for advice and guidance from these giants. Our deepest sympathies from all the committee members of the Sri Lanka Society of Queensland to his family and friends during this tough time.”Chamitha Weerasinghe
“This is such sad news, and it seems so sudden too. He was the loveliest guy you’d ever meet, very knowledgeable, always obliging and kind. We have truly lost a tremendous asset to our community; he will be greatly missed. Both personally and on behalf of our club, our deepest sympathies, love and blessings to his family and friends. May he rest in peace.”Laurensz Manricks, Silver Fawn Club