I have been a resident of Columbus for 27 years. I came from Sri Lanka in 1989 amidst strife in that island nation. I first met Harry a few days after my arrival in Columbus, at a Rotary meeting where I was a guest of Owen Hungerford, a senior Rotarian. Shortly after, Harry called Owen and asked me and my wife to come to The Republic. He interviewed us and wrote an article on the circumstances under which we arrived in Columbus. About 6 months on, I started the Tea Room at the Columbus Inn Bed & Breakfast (the former City Hall) in collaboration with the innkeeper, Paul Staublin. Harry published an article about “The Pleasures of Tea” in The Republic, which was good publicity for me.
I felt that he genuinely liked me and wanted me to be successful. While I was operating the tea room, I started to import and wholesale tea and at the same time started my own brand. He heard about it and wrote an article “Tea Room Entrepreneur Brews Plans for Success.” There were three or four other articles that were published in The Republic from time to time. In 2008 when my company won the ice tea competition at the Tea Expo in Las Vegas, he wrote an article “Tea Master Ices Opponents in Competition at Las Vegas.” Whenever I met Harry, he would ask how I was doing and he was following my progress. After I won the senior idol contest in 2010 and he saw me perform at a fundraiser, he was very complimentary and wrote another article “Spotlight – ‘Idol’ Gives 50-and-Over Crowd Chance to Shine.”
I tried to keep in touch with him in the later years. And not knowing that he was in hospice, I called and left a voice message for him three days before he passed away. I am hoping that his wife got the message and passed it onto him before he died. Harry was a kind-hearted giant in the community. He embodies everything good in Columbus and has been its greatest cheerleader. He will be sadly missed by this community and me personally. May he rest in peace.
– Lalith Guy Paranavitana, Columbus