Surrounded by his sons and grandchildren, iconic teamaker Merrill J. Fernando passed away in Colombo last week. The visionary founder of Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company’s greatness was in his invincible faith, his integrity and love for tea and family. With devotion and urgency, he pursued his desire for integrity and quality with humility and kindness. His achievement in disrupting an exploitative colonial industry irrevocably changed the lives of producers around the world introducing a paradigm shift in ethical business before ethics and sustainable business acquired the prominence they have now.
Merrill J Fernando was a disrupter whose mission was simply for his passion to make lives better for other people. His humble, rural Sri Lankan beginnings, and the Christian family values that surrounded him defined his life. He devoted his life to tea, working every day until the age of 91 – and maintaining vigilance until he passed at the age of 93 – in spreading the message of Pure Ceylon Tea. He was relentless in this too, fighting against efforts at compromise, or adulteration of his beloved Ceylon Tea. The reasons for his uncompromising defence of quality was his belief in integrity, and in value addition as the only means of benefiting workers and the future of Ceylon Tea.
The man who was once known as ‘the Dedicated Founder’ leaves two generations who share his conviction. His achievement is as much in inspiring his generations to carry the torch of integrity and commitment to tea as it is in strengthening the dreams of producers. His passion, devotion, commitment, love and kindness will forever inspire us to continue to strive for the excellence he always demanded while never compromising on positively impacting the lives of less fortunate people.
We remember Merrill J. Fernando for his humanity and his achievement in personally and passionately creating a global family behind the cause he pursued every day of his life for 73 years; Ceylon Tea with Taste, Goodness and ethical Purpose. Please join us in celebrating the life of Merrill J. Fernando and the profound impact he has had on our world.