LEON Bowyer is being remembered as one of Orange’s “true gentlemen” and a giant of its proud rugby union history.
Mr Bowyer passed away on Wednesday, aged 81.
He leaves behind a long and proud legacy, especially with the Orange Emus club, where he spent successful decades both on the field as a player and on the sidelines as a coach.
Orange mayor Reg Kidd on Monday paid tribute to his former mentor, saying higher footballing honours would have come his way had his priorities been different.
“He was probably unlucky not to go on to play for Australia,” Cr Kidd said.
“But his studies as a cadet engineer with Ophir County Council and his family were always his priorities.”
His studies as a cadet engineer with Ophir County Council and his family were always his priorities.Orange mayor Reg Kidd
Mr Bowyer rose through Ophir’s ranks, retiring as chief engineer and deputy CEO after a long and distinguished career.
He also put a deal of time into community through memberships of service clubs, as well as in his capacity as a representative on the TAFE NSW Regional Advisory Board, and the board of Wangarang Industries.
But it was indisputably on the rugby pitch – where he played for Emus, Central West, a NSW Country tour of New Zealand, and his state – that he made his biggest mark in Orange and beyond.
He represented New South Wales in 1962, linking a familial line of representative rugby players that started with his grandfather George Bouffler, who played for the Wallabies in 1905, and was continued by his son Warwick, who was selected in the Australian Schoolboys side which toured New Zealand in 1984.
“He was a great athlete and great rugby player,” Cr Kidd said of his former coach.
“He also coached numerous Emus sides in the 1960s, and I was very fortunate to have him [as a coach] when I returned home in 1974 and 1975.”
Mr Bowyer steered Emus’ first grade side to a joint Central West premiership in 1975, sharing that season’s spoils with Dubbo.
“His support of his beloved Emus was legendary, and I will miss his words of wisdom always,” Cr Kidd said.
He was also a committed golfer and, along with his wife Janet, a proud member of Duntryleague Golf Club.
Mr Bowyer’s funeral service will be held at 2pm on Friday at the Penhall Memorial Chapel at 33 William Street. He is survived by his wife Janet and children Kate and Warwick.
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