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Sebastian G. Canagaratna

April 8, 1938 ~ August 14, 2020 (age 82)

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Sebastian Gnanaraj Canagaratna, a resident of Topsfield, MA, died peacefully on August 14, 2020 at the age of 82. Sebastian was born on April 8, 1938 in Jaffna, Sri Lanka to Walter and Rose Canagaratna. He nurtured his lifelong passion for science by completing a PhD from Liverpool University in 1966 and by teaching chemistry for 45 years, both in Sri Lanka (University of Peradeniya) and in the United States (Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio). He is survived by his wife Indra, daughter Manjula, son-in-law Tom, grandchildren Sam and Maya, and son Gnanulan. He also leaves behind a brother Selvam Canagaratna and his wife Cissie, a sister Urmilla Rajamoney, a brother-in-law Rev. C. Samraj, and a sister-in-law Marina Daniel. 

Sebastian’s life was defined by his love for family and friends, his commitment to teaching, and his service to the community. As an avid learner, he immersed himself in the pursuits of music, science, art, sports, foreign languages, and chess. Sebastian approached all challenges with grace and tenacity, whether moving to a new country to avoid civil unrest or facing his final diagnosis of multiple systems atrophy (MSA). His life will be commemorated during a virtual funeral service to be held on Aug 22, 2020 at 9:30 AM EDT followed by interment at Trinity Episcopal Church in Topsfield, MA. Those wishing to participate should contact You are also invited to share memories or tributes by visiting his obituary page at

PLEASE OMIT FLOWERS make donations to the following

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Sebastian’s memory may be made to any of the following:

St. Jude's (via the memorial giving link at

Esperanza Academy (

Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA) Research  Checks are payable to Massachusetts General Hospital (Memo Line: Schmahmann Lab/Sebastian Canagaratna) and should be mailed to the MGH Development Office, 125 Nashua St, Suite 540, Boston, MA 02114.

To send flowers to Sebastian's family, please visit our floral store.


Virtual Service
August 22, 2020

9:30 AM
Trinity Episcopal Church
124 River Road
Topsfield, MA 01983

Please note
The services will be broadcasted on Zoom to participate please email the family at


St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105
Tel: 1-800-805-5856

Esperanza Academy

Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA) Research Checks are payable to Massachusetts General Hospital
125 Nashua St, Suite 540,, Boston MA 02114

(Memo Line: Schmahmann Lab/Sebastian Canagaratna)

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