Personal Information
Born:1870
Died:1939
Nationality:Sri Lankan
Education:Medical College Colombo
Occupation:Physician
Title:
Spouse:Letitia Seneviratne, Mildred May Wickremeratne
Parents:Charles Edward Bandaranayake Corea and Henrietta Seneviratne
 
Milfred May Wickremeratne wife of Dr. James Alfred Corea
 
 
DR. J. A. E. COREA

DOCTOR JAMES ALFRED ERNEST was the son of Charles Edward Bandaranayake Corea and his wife  Henrietta Seneviratne. Born in Chilaw in 1870, he had four siblings, the two brothers C. E. Corea  and C. E. Victor S. Corea and two sisters, Eva and Agnes.

Completing his degree at the Colombo Medical College, Dr. Corea joined Government practice as a General Physician. After a short stint in Government service, he decided to begin a private practice and worked in his dispensary in Chilaw. He married Letitia Seneviratne, daughter of James C. H. Seneviratne of the “Towers”, Marawila.Their children were Bertram (an advocate and District Judge), Gwendoline and Ivan, an Anglican Clergyman.

He was a dedicated practicing Christian and endeared himself to the less fortunate. His medical services were provided free of charge to the needy and he was available to the people at any time of the day or night. Dr. Corea was reputed for perfect diagnostic skills, although the present day laboratory tests were then not available. He was involved in the work of the Denepitiya Medical Mission and extended his support to the late Miss Kate Carney, founder of The House of Joy, Thalawa. During the deadly ‘parangi’ epidemic in that area, Dr. Corea with Dr. Gunawardena (father of late Samasamaja Party stalwart, Leslie Gunawardena) volunteered their services free-of-charge, when no other medical men were prepared to venture there. Dr. J. A. E. Corea was considered a soft-spoken, kind and unassuming gentleman, quite content working behind the scenes for the poorest of the poor. He was an unsung hero, in contrast to his two brothers, who became famous for their roles in the `freedom struggle’ for independence from Britain.

Sadhu Sundar Singh, a Hindu turned Christian Missionary, visited Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) on his invitation and was his guest at `Serendib’, in Chilaw. His residence ‘Serendib’, on the Puttalam Road Chilaw, was designed, built and so named by Dr. Corea. He was an artist ‘par excellence’, winning recognition, having won the first prize in a World Art Competition. He worked mostly with oil colours, and his large paintings preserved to date, are the ‘Light of the World’ (depicting Jesus Christ with a lamp in one hand knocking on a door), ‘Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane’, the ‘Return of Persephone’ (depicting a story from Greek mythology of a lost daughter being returned to her mother), the ‘Sea Gives Up Its Dead’ and ‘Infant Samuel’. A large mural of the Pharaoh's daughter discovering ‘Baby Moses’ in the bulrushes, was painted on the wall of the master bedroom at ‘Serendib’. He painted a portrait of himself dressed in coat and tie, a portrait of his second wife May and many sketches of his children, as well as scenes of Chilaw, which sadly were not completed, due to  failing health.

After many years as a widower, Dr. Corea met Mildred May Wickremeratne, the daughter of Atapathu Mudliyar Charles Alexander Wickremeratne of Atapathu Walawwa, Matara, at  his cousin’s wedding. He soon decided that she was ‘the  one’ for him. Despite a considerable age difference, they were married and became a motherly influence on Bertram, Gwendoline, and Ivan. In fact, when Gwen was almost crippled with arthritis, it was May who nursed her back to health. The elder siblings in turn, helped care for the younger children Ernest (Ernie) an Attorney-at-Law and Magistrate, Eunice (Una), Malcolm, a Banker and Ernestine. May, was loved and respected by the Corea clan, friends and neighbours. Her advice was keenly sought after, in times of trouble. She even risked the safety of her young children to be by the bedside of a child sick with diphtheria – a serious infectious disease. May got on well with her step sons and daughter, who even helped to care for the younger brothers and sisters. When Gwen was almost crippled with arthritis, her stepmother May nursed her back to health. She had a fondness for the Kandyan style of saree which she adopted, and was known for being well groomed at all times.



 
 
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