Friday, January 11, 2013

Lawrence da Silva, RIP

This last week, God called to his side one of those individuals who quietly works in the background to achieve great things. Lawrence da Silva, the Chairman of the Board of Governors since SJI International's inception, who led the drive to establish the school in 2006, passed away unexpectedly on January 1, 2013. It had been largely through his enthusiasm, drive, competence, connections, and generous spirit that we were able to admit our first batch of students in January 2007, within 10 months of the school’s conception. If ever there was someone who could legitimately be described as a driving force for the school, it would be Lawrence da Silva.

Those of us who worked with him on a regular basis, either through the Board of Governors or through regular interactions on school issues, came to appreciate his wisdom, his vast professional experience, and his wonderful personality. He was one of those individuals who is able to make others feel important, no matter their role or status, simply through his open smile, his supportive words, and his clear direction or suggestions. One felt quietly blessed simply by being with him.

Lawrence carried a great love and respect for Lasallian education that dated from his WWII experience in early childhood when he first encountered the Brothers. He never forgot the kindness shown to him at that time and spent a life that was also naturally generous toward others, especially those most in need or abandoned. Attending Lasallian schools in Singapore solidified his commitment to the transformative potential of education, and his professional life focused on all of the unseen background elements of a successful educational enterprise (administration, finances, HR, facilities, etc.), leading him to become a superb, well-respected, and wise administrator. In his own humble way, he advocated for the simple realities of human life and human relationships, building respect while holding people accountable through recognizing their human dignity and simply enjoying the opportunity to interact with those around him.

The generosity of his time, talents, and treasure was truly exceptional. He would not want me to share any details of the ways in which he supported the school financially, through scholarships, building fund donations, annual fund contributions, and special projects, especially in supporting students in need. Suffice it to say that his financial support equaled or exceeded the amount of time and effort he spent in both establishing the school and in ensuring its ongoing success. We owe him a deep debt of gratitude and will very much miss his guidance, support, and friendship.

The direction that he established for our school, through his decisions, recommendations, and wide-ranging conversations, is one that we gladly maintain and will continue to advance. We have started a scholarship fund in his name, thereby acknowledging his deep interest in supporting students in need, and we will honor his memory best by making the school flourish in its every endeavour on behalf of those entrusted to our care.

May God grant him eternal rest, and may all of us be inspired by his example and deep faith in God and others, thankful for the grace of having shared in the life journey of this truly outstanding Catholic and Josephian.