Personal Information
Born:8th October 1917
Died:7th February 1981
Nationality:Sri Lankan
Education:CMS Ladies' College
Occupation:
Title:
Spouse:Henri Corea
Parents:Mudaliyar Gerry De Alwis and his wife Alice
 
Claire, Uttum, Deva and Henri at Mihintale
 
 
CLAIRE COREA (NEE DE ALWIS)
CLAIRE MAUDE COREA was the youngest of five siblings, born on the 8th of October 1917 to Mudaliyar Gerry De Alwis and his wife Alice, who was a Ms. Jayatilleke. Her siblings were Iris who married the late Brigadier Roy Jayetilleke (the first Officer Commanding of the Sinha Regiment of the Ceylon Army), Phylis who married Ernest Aluwihare of the Customs Department, Eileen who married Canon the Rev. Derick Karunaratne and Douglas who married Swineetha Malalgoda. Educated at CMS Ladies' College when the Principal was the legendary Ms. Opie, she was appointed Head Prefect. A musical family, each of the siblings played a musical instrument. Her forte was the piano. The siblings often played together as a mini orchestra. 

Living with her parents in Mount Lavinia, their house adjoined that of Mrs. Eugenie Corea, who lived there with her grand-daughters Srimani and Siva. Henri Corea, who was then the Officer-in-Charge of the Padukka Police Station, would visit his mother on his motorcycle whenever he attended courts in Colombo, bringing chocolates for his two nieces who would be hanging on the gate awaiting his arrival. It is said that seeing Claire on the balcony of her parents’ house, it was love at first sight. Married on the 2nd of June 1939, they were welcomed to Padukka by Mr. & Mrs. M. D. H. Jayewardene. It was not long before Srimani and Siva and Henri’s mother came to live with them. She cared for them as her own.

Henri and Claire had six children of their own, Ilona, Randunna, Deva, Uttum, Ranmali and Aruni.  Being a Policeman’s wife was not easy as it meant shifting from one station to another with each transfer and having to set up a new home each time that happened. Claire was the strength and mainstay of the family, controlling everyone with a mere gesture or a softly spoken admonition. She was Henri’s confidante and guide, helping him to weather all the storms that came up against him during his career in the Police Department. A devout Christian, she and Henri ensured that the children would attend Sunday-School and later Sunday Service in church. She was close to her father’s sisters, Ada (who taught at Trinity College Kandy), Laura, Milly and Effei. The sisters lived together, initially at Katukelle on the Peradeniya Road and later at Prince Street, in Kandy. They supported themselves by supplying shops with their out of this world sweets.  It was Ada who inculcated the habit of reading in all her grand-nephews and grand-nieces, enrolling them in the Enid Blyton Club for good measure. Henri was the Assistant Superintendent of Police Kandy in 1959, when a year later he fell ill and was hospitalized in Colombo for almost one year. Ilona was studying in Colombo, Randunna was in Medical College, while Deva and Uttum ran the house and looked after the cow, pigs, poultry and the horse while Ranmali and Aruni stayed with Claire’s aunts. Claire was running up and down between Colombo and Kandy to manage the family and the patient. Alice her mother and sister Eileen were by then also staying with the De Alwis sisters. It was during this period that Claire her mother and sister Eileen were introduced to Pentecostal Christianity. Her mother was led by the Lord to dictate her `visions’ to Eileen who typed it in book form. Although the book `At the feet of the Master’ did not catch on locally, a gentleman from Malaysia was led to visit Sri Lanka in the mid 80s to obtain the copyrights to print this book in Malaysia, where it is said to have had an impact on the Christian community there.

It was Claire’s ingrained qualities and strength that created an extra-ordinary unity within the family which has strengthened over the years after her passing away. A caring, soft spoken, devoted mother and wife, she was not without an impish sense of humour. At a dance held at the Grand Oriental Hotel Fort, soon after the filming of the `Bridge over the River Kwai’ in the early 50’s, she was asked for a dance by Alec Guiness.  She would relate the story of Henri pacing alongside the dance floor with childish glee, just to tease him.  

She loved animals and rode for a time. The mounts she rode, were the Police horses Blitz and Anzac. After a bad fall off Anzac (the horse that reputedly threw the late Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake), Claire stopped riding to concentrate on the family and home. In Kandy, with the arrival of a Boxer pup Cindy of Augusta Hill, `Manchi` to the family, she took to grooming her for shows at the Kennel Club, Ladies Kennel Club and Canine Club, where still a puppy, she attained Champion status. Zunftig of Shetna was another Champion Boxer dog who was groomed by Claire before each show. With the arrival of the grand-children her focus of attention changed and she doted on them, her dream was to have them all at home in a dormitory from where they would be packed off to school each day. 

It was on the 7th of February 1981 that she passed away, creating a permanent void in the lives of her family.



 
 
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