Dilmah said that Fernando was surrounded by his sons and grandchildren when he passed away in Colombo this morning.
The visionary founder of Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company’s greatness was in his invincible faith, his integrity and love for tea & 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. As he is called home to rest in the arms of his beloved Lord Jesus, 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.
To learn more about Mr. Merrill J. Fernando’s life and to share your condolences: mjf.dilmahtea.com