amherst memorial service

Karunasena Wickremasinghe

Karunasena Wickremasinghe


a Photo of young Karunasena Wickremasinghe

Obituary for Karunasena Wickremasinghe

June 7, 1932 – November 13, 2023

Karunasena Wickremasinghe, affectionately called Hooch by family and his university friends, and Wicks by others, was born in Negampaha, Sri Lanka in 1932.

A long life till age 91, there is a volume of facts and memories that can be written. This is only a bit of it.

His parents were both school teachers and his family consisted of 3 sisters (Latha, Padma and Lucky) and 1 younger brother (Rupasiri). He attended Dharmaraja College, Kandy, followed by the University of Ceylon, where he graduated with a BSc. in Physics and Mathematics. He met Tiny at the University of Colombo and they were married in 1959. They had 2 daughters, Lalya and Indira. Hooch and his family travelled widely in Ceylon where his extensive knowledge of its history and geography was imparted to his children. These trips form some of our best memories.

His first trip abroad was in 1972 when he was sent to Amsterdam by his employer for a 6-month training course. There he met Nellie, a retired nurse who became his landlady and lifelong friend. Nellie visited him in Sri Lanka, and Hooch and his family visited her many times in Amsterdam over the subsequent years.

Although his stipend during his stay in Holland was very small, he managed to save enough by scrimping, allowing him to bring wonderful gifts for his family. Lovely fabrics for Tiny, a guitar, microscope and dinghy for the children, were some of the treasures he brought back. They talk about these even now. When he came back home, his country Ceylon, had been renamed Sri Lanka. In fact, the immigration officer challenged his passport, which was from Ceylon.

Hooch achieved his long-standing wish and immigrated to Canada in 1975 with his young family. He landed in Regina, Saskatchewan. He began teaching at the University of Regina Engineering faculty, where he remained for 21 years, until retirement in 1996.

As soon as regulations allowed, he applied for Canadian Citizenship which he received in 1978. Due to foreign exchange regulations, he could not bring much money when he immigrated. His ambitions however, knew no limits. He was determined to see the world, starting with his first trip to California. He ended up visiting more than 80 countries. He collected flags, one from each country he visited, missing only two. He loved cruising every chance he got, often twice or thrice a year. To get away from the cold winter, he loved visiting the Caribbean countries, especially Barbados, where he owned a time-share which he generously shared with his family and friends.

Although the two countries are only 50 Km apart, due to the political climate, he had been unable to visit India while he lived in Sri Lanka. He finally got the chance to visit India in 2018. The photographs taken on his numerous trips, fill several albums as well as megabytes on his computer hard drive. He never tired of looking at his photographs. They are his legacy to his family.

He supported his two daughters through university. Lalya graduated as a medical doctor and Indira became a librarian.

After retirement he moved to BC, living in Victoria and Vancouver. His two grandchildren, Imara and Rowan were the joy of his life. As young children he took them on many outings and built them a play house that they enjoyed for many years. He loved telling them travel stories of the places he had seen. When he couldn’t drive anymore, he gave his car to Rowan who had just graduated from the University of Victoria. His passion for bridge began while he was a university student and he continued playing bridge throughout his life. He also enjoyed playing golf, even scoring an ace on a course in Regina. He wrote a self-published math puzzle book, and loved tackling the hardest Sudoku puzzles in the newspaper. He was a long-term member of Mensa, and served as the President of Mensa Canada in 1992. He attended Mensa gatherings world wide.

Anyone who knew him can attest to his unending fountain of stories about the places he had visited. He had a supply of bad jokes at the ready. How he remembered them all we don’t know. He loved talking to strangers and making friends whether on an international trip or in the queue at the bank. He entertained the neighbourhood children with magic tricks- using a coin, a handkerchief, elastic band or a deck of cards from his pocket.

Unfortunately, Hooch had myriad medical problems. Diabetes was the worst, leading to heart disease and by-pass surgery. A pace maker, liver and kidney problems, plus failing eye-sight, and hearing loss made life difficult for him. He enjoyed sharing jokes and discussions about cricket matches with his many medical specialists who appreciated his clarity and sharpness of mind.

The worst blow was when his doctors recently advised him against long plane journeys, and he had to cancel the trip he had arranged to visit South Africa.

His mind remained sharp to the very end. The day before he passed, he was showing us math tricks by doing squares and square roots in his head in seconds.

Last but not least, he loved single malt scotch.

In Loving Memory

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Dignity. Respect. Simplicity.