I was greatly saddened to learn of Laurie's passing on April 2, 2020.
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He had a great impact on my life as a young person. He was a staunchly independent man, a man for all seasons - his own man - the like of which did much to make Oberon one of the great centres of NSW.
Since my youth, I have been in many classrooms, but none as precious to me as the ones Laurie provided for me during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
For me, Laurie's classrooms came in many settings and forms - pea paddocks, potato paddocks, shearing sheds, harvesting hay, fencing, clearing scrub at his father-in-law's Black Springs property for peas, spotlighting foxes and rabbits, tickling brown trout, and a thousand other tasks, and most importantly, the rugby league paddock and in the proud wearing of the black and gold in the Group 10 competition.
My first memories of Laurie came as a rugby league player in the local Oberon competition, which ran during most of the 1950s.
As a young teenager he played for Hazelgrove and then later for Boys' Club.
These were heady days for Oberonites when for several winter months each year they would flock to the local footy ground on Sunday afternoons for the two or three matches played each week.
Even as a young man, Laurie was a standout player, the second row hard man.
Not surprisingly, when Oberon returned to Group 10 in 1958 with the late George Smith as captain/coach, Laurie wore the number 9.
It was a big year for the black and golds, and with his tenacious tackling and hard running out wide in the forwards, Laurie had stamped his authority on Group 10.
He played no small role in establishing the black and golds as one of Group 10's top teams on the way to more premierships than you could poke a stick at.
Laurie's jaw-dropping and rib-tickling clashes with his distinguished nemesis from Orange CYMS was soon attracting hordes of devoted rugby league enthusiasts.
Laurie's awe-inspiring adversary came in an unlikely form: a quietly spoken, a thorough gentleman, a gentle Catholic priest by the name of Father "Grassy" Grannell - gentle, yes, in every form and everywhere except the rugby league paddock, where as five-eighth for the green and golds he had a hard-man reputation very similar to his contemporary lookalike from the St George Dragons, Brian "Poppa" Clay.
With the arrival of the late Tony Paskins as captain/coach in 1959 even greater crowds flocked to watch the black and golds.
Vast numbers flocked to Oberon's following, not only to watch the brilliance of Paskins - for me, the greatest ever rugby league player of the mid-20th century - but also to watch the hard-hitting Oberon forward pack.
There were memorable local players such Johnnie Rush, Bluey Richards, Johnnie Brian, Frankie "Bumper" Lewis, Big Don and Col "Roughhead" Elwin, and out wide the hardest and toughest of them all in the form of Laurie "Lowry Dooly" Evans.
Whether at Wade Park in Orange or the Oberon footy ground, when the black and golds measured off against the green and golds - two mighty teams each with one of the hardest men ever to pull on a guernsey and pair of boots - the atmosphere would become electric with anticipation.
Even today, many fans of the black and gold with sheer joy will recall the rising crescendo from the massed crowd, as if an approaching summer storm, when either Laurie or Grassy was about to receive the ball.
If it were Grassy, there would come Laurie's challenge: "Look out Father! Here I come."
Loving every moment of the high drama, Grassy would show Laurie the ball, inviting him in, challenging him in for the tackle. The massed crowd would scream in delight. This was truly the clash of Titans.
Oberon fans also will recall when Laurie was on the reserve bench for Tony Paskins' Western Division team when it measured off against the Alex Murphy-led touring Great Britain team at Bathurst in 1962.
With the likes of the mighty lock-forward Derek Turner and the rampaging giant winger Billy Boston running riot over the boys from west of the Divide, a cry rang out in unison from the teeming thousands gathered around Carrington Park "to bring on Laurie", the Western Division hard man, and possibly the only man in the Western Division team who was capable of bringing Turner and his forward pack to their knees.
Years later, when I was interviewing Paskins for my Dr Lance Robey book, Paskins readily acknowledged Laurie as being as hard and tough as even the great English number 9, "the Wild Bull of the Pampas", Vince Karalius.
Thanks Laurie for a host of countless memories of lessons well taught and gratefully received.
You even taught me how to drive - in your old '54 Vauxhall.
You'll be sadly missed, old mate.
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