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In Loving Memory of Bhikkhu T. Ranawaka Mahinda
It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Bhikkhu T. Ranawaka Mahinda, a beacon of generosity, kindness, and unwavering love. After bravely battling Stage 4 prostate cancer diagnosed in October 2023, Mr. Mahinda peacefully departed from this world on December 18, 2023 due to complications from a lung infection.
Bhikkhu T. Mahinda leaves behind a legacy of compassion, survived by his beloved wife of 49 ½ years, Diane Duncan Mahinda, and their three children: Chandana (Stacy) Mahinda, Ranjini (Eric) JohnBull, and Nonni (Josh) Wagner. He was a beloved Papa to Sanjaya, Nuwan, Priyasha, Shalini, Anjali, Ishara, Blaisdel, Rasika, Zephaniah, Athanasius, and Daxton. He was also a beloved uncle and great uncle to many nieces and nephews in the US. He remains a revered “Mama/Bappa/Lokku Thaththa” and “Seeya,” (“uncle” and “great-uncle” in Sinhala) to his nephews and nieces in Sri Lanka, Europe, and Australia. In Sri Lanka, he is survived by one younger sister, Kusuma.
Visitation and funeral services will be held at the First United Methodist Church, 2941 S. Koke Mill Road, Springfield, IL 62711, on Saturday, January 6. Visitation begins at 10 a.m. through 11:30 a.m., and funeral services begin at 12:00 p.m.
A celebration of life will follow at the Springfield Elks Club, 409 E. Lake Shore Drive #158, Springfield, IL 62712, immediately after the funeral service. Mr. Mahinda’s remains will be buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Palmyra, Illinois, near Diane's parents' graves, for immediate family only, at a later date.
Born on November 2, 1939, in the village of Telijjawila, Sri Lanka, Mr. Mahinda was one of many siblings, born to Coranelis Ranawaka Arachchi Kankanamge and Laisana Sedara. At a young age, he entered the order of Buddhist monks, becoming a scholar in ancient scriptures, Sanskrit and Pali, and the teachings of the Buddha. He broke barriers, earning an undergraduate degree in Sociology from the Sri Lanka University of Peradeniya.
Mr. Mahinda’s education journey led him to the United States, where, after being politically active in Sri Lanka, he received a scholarship from the Asia Foundation. His academic pursuits took him to Fresno, California, and later to the University of Missouri, Columbia, where he earned a Master's in Community Development. His studies included internships in Puerto Rico and the Philippines to study international community development systems. Though the Asia Foundation's support ended in 1971, Mr. Mahinda continued his impactful career in Springfield, Illinois, working for the Governor's Office Model Cities Program and a career in Illinois until his retirement in 2002.
In reflecting on his time at the University of Missouri, Columbia, Mr. Mahinda wrote, "Mizzou helped me in every aspect, and it developed my life too." He appreciated the university's top-notch program in community development. Mr. Mahinda’s deep appreciation for education and supporting a pursuit for knowledge remained a consistent thread throughout his life.
In Springfield, Mr. Mahinda’s life surprisingly opened a new door when he met Diane Duncan on an elevator in the Governor's Office building in 1971 and was dazzled by her kind smile and warm greeting. He decided a family life with Diane would be his life’s pursuit. He proposed to her in December of 1973 and they were married on Monday, April 15, 1974. They built their life together in Springfield, Illinois, and in their retirement, they also built new friendships in their winter community of Indio, CA.
Bhikkhu T. Mahinda's essence was defined by his unwavering commitment to getting to know people, and helping those in need. He possessed a unique sense of humor and a genuine curiosity about people of all ages, and often offered helpful advice. In retirement, he engaged in community activities to promote deeper interfaith communications and global peace. During that time, he produced the weekly TV show "Gems of Wisdom," dialoguing with guests to share nuanced insights on religion, politics, and international affairs on local access channel 4. He also actively served in the Greater Springfield Interfaith Association and on the Springfield Commission on International Visitors.
The joys of Mr. Mahinda’s life came in simple pleasures and magical moments with family and friends. These moments appeared in his family time with his wife, children, grandchildren, and dear friends. Spending time with their children and grandchildren in Illinois, Indiana, and North Carolina regularly ranked high on the simple pleasures. Mr. Mahinda and Diane would marvel at the breath-taking views on their road trips to Indiana, North Carolina, and their snowbird trips to California in the winter. He was devoted to his fun-loving wife, deeply loved his family, was a loyal friend, and was a constant supporter to his family in Sri Lanka. When not traveling, he always stayed connected through daily phone calls to friends and family locally and across the globe.
In a heartfelt message, Mr. Mahinda’s children expressed their gratitude to him in the hospital before he passed, saying, "You’ve been a wonderful father, papa, and husband to mom. We’re all so grateful for the man that you are and for the life that you have lived, and for all that you have given us through your love for us. Your generosity, your kindness, and your servant heart have extended into each of us as your children and grandchildren.”
As we bid farewell to Bhikkhu T. Ranawaka Mahinda, we celebrate a life richly lived—a life marked by profound generosity, boundless kindness, laughter and an unwavering commitment to making the world a better place. May his teachings and the memories of his warmth and love continue to inspire us all.
Sincere thanks to Ellinger-Kunz, and Park Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Springfield, IL.
In lieu of flowers, you may donate funds to the Sri Lanka Association of the Midwest for the Bhikkhu Mahinda Student Scholarship fund. To do this, you may send your donation through Venmo to @SLAUSA or through Zelle to email@example.com and please include the memo line "In memory of Bhikkhu Mahinda Scholarship Fund"
Live Streaming of the funeral service will be through the following link: live.springfieldfirst.org, Services are not set to begin until 12:00pm CST and the stream will not be available until close to service time.