Mr. Ratnapala Withana, a true journalistic hero, passed away this morning (29) in Canada, when people who had never written a newspaper article about the weather or an essay about the coconut tree were lauded as great newspaper heroes.
At the time of his death, he was 94 years old and the father of two children.
In the 1950s, he worked as a journalist for the Sinhala Jathiya newspaper, which was founded by Sir Anagarika Dharmapala. He was also a member of the Lankadeepa newspaper, which was published by the Times Institute in the early days.
It is believed that the paper articles produced by Mr. Withana, were investigative pieces on historical facts that, at the time, were controversial.
In particular, the Times article he published about the ashes of Dutugemunu on the roof of an old shed was much debated. In addition, articles have been written about the man from Balangoda.
Mr. Ratnapala Withana, who has a flair for using the Sinhala language in a straightforward manner, also served as the ministry’s news officer at the request of the Mahaweli Development Minister, Mr. Gamini Dissanayake, when The Times ceased publication.
Later, he emigrated with his children to Canada.
He has also held the position of regional news editor for the Times, daily Lankadeepa.
Mr. Withana did not give up journalism although living in Canada; he occasionally contributed to the Sunday Lankadeepa newspaper published by Vijaya Newspaper Company.
Janaki Withanage, one of his daughters, worked as a Journalist for Dinamina news paper for some time.
In accordance with his request that the last rites be performed as quickly as possible following his passing, the last rites will be performed in Canada tomorrow (30th).