07 August 2009

First Lankan immigrant to USA dies

04th August 2009, www.dailymirror.lk

Rajah Rutnam, who was the first Sri Lankan immigrant to the USA and the eldest son of late Dr. James T. Rutnam and Evelyn Wijeyaratne Rutnam passed away at the age of 75 on 30th July 2009.

He migrated to the United States from Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) in February 1953 at the age of 19 and was the first Ceylonese immigrant to America under the Mc.Carren Act of 1952. He joined the United States Marine Corps, served in Okinawa and was honourably discharged as Staff Sergeant after ten years of active duty. In 1964 he established the first Sri Lankan Restaurant in California, Rajah's Elephant Walk in Hollywood.

A talented artist, he published the first Sri Lankan newspaper in California. He was a Founder Committee Member, Past President and Life Member of the SLAASC (the Sri Lanka America Association of Southern California).

He was the Vice President of the Asian Pacific Organisation, Director of Sri Lanka Trade, Tourism and Cultural Information Services, and an active participant in many Country Oriented Cultural Festivals.

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