John Fallon, the Chief Executive Officer of Pearson, confirms that Dieter Kowalski, a man who once lived in Greenfield and graduated of the University of Wisconsin, is one of the victims of a terror attack in Sri Lanka.
In an email to employees on Monday, April 22, Fallon said “Dieter had just arrived at his hotel, where many of our colleagues have stayed over the years, when he was killed in an explosion.” Kowalski was in Sri Lanka on a business trip.
The coordinated bombings that ripped through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka were carried out by seven suicide bombers from a militant group named National Thowfeek Jamaath, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said. The bombings killed more than 200 people.
Fallon said in his email, “We’re angry that a good man, who took simple pleasure in fixing things, has been killed, along with many others, by evil men and women who know only how to destroy.”
The U.S. said “several” Americans, including Kowalski, were among the dead, while Britain, India, China, Japan and Portugal said they, too, lost citizens.
The Wisconsin Alumni Association also released a statement, saying "Dieter was a true Badger, living the Wisconsin Idea. He took the knowledge gained at UW-Madison and tried to change the world for the better."
Complete text of letter from Pearson CEO John Fallon to employees (April 22)
I’m sorry to have to share the awful news that our colleague, Dieter Kowalski, was killed yesterday in the Easter Sunday atrocities in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Dieter had just arrived at his hotel, where many of our colleagues have stayed over the years, when he was killed in an explosion.
As a senior leader of our Operation Technical services team, Dieter was looking forward to an action-packed week, working with our local engineering teams to troubleshoot some difficult challenges that were important to our customers, and with whom Dieter regularly engaged. He was excited about the chance to meet again in person, some two and a half years after his last trip, with Sri Lankan colleagues who had become good friends. Our Sri Lankan colleagues were very much looking forward to seeing him, too.
Colleagues who knew Dieter well talk about how much fun he was to be around, how big-hearted and full-spirited he was. They tell of a man to whom we could give our ugliest and most challenging of engineering problems, knowing full well that he would jump straight in and help us figure it out. Dieter, they tell me, was never happier than cheer-leading for our customers and our company and inspiring people in the best way he knew how – by helping them to fix things and doing it with joy, happiness and grace. He was a man who took great pride in the purpose of our company – helping our students progress in their studies and their lives mattered to him.
We mourn Dieter deeply today. We pray for his soul, and for his family and friends. We pray, too, for our colleagues in Sri Lanka, and Denver, and Boston, and in Pearson offices around the world. We’re angry that a good man, who took simple pleasure in fixing things, has been killed, along with many others, by evil men and women who know only how to destroy. But in our anger and despair, we remember the words of Queen Elizabeth II in the aftermath of 9/11. Grief, she said, is the price we pay for love. Let’s remember the love that Dieter had for his family, friends and colleagues – and the love they had for him. Let’s remember his love of life and his love of solving people’s problems. In these desperately difficult days, let’s honour Dieter by showing that love ourselves, by taking extra care of each other – at work, at home and in our communities.
We are doing all we can to support Dieter’s family, colleagues and friends. We’re also supporting our 800 colleagues in Sri Lanka, who do so much to support our company and our customers every day. We’ll share further updates with you in the days and weeks ahead.
Very best wishes,