Rugby stalwart succumbs to illness

Last updated 05:00 09/12/2013

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Taranaki rugby lost one of its finest servants with the death of Leon Earby in New Plymouth on Saturday.

Earby had been battling ill health for a number years. He was 81.

Born in Wanganui, Earby was educated at Welbourn Primary School and early in life fell in love with rugby and the Tukapa club, which he joined in 1944.

He played and coached for the club, before being club captain in 1970-77 and president in 1983-84.

Inevitably, he became Tukapa's voice on the Taranaki Rugby Football Union, serving for 13 years on the management committee.

His diligent service to the TRFU also encompassed a lengthy tenure as the visiting team's liaison officer, and occasionally acting as manager of the Taranaki senior representative side.

Earby was rewarded with life membership of both the TRFU and Tukapa.

A builder by trade, Earby was able to use his skills as a "Mr Fix-it" in all organisations he belonged to.

That was never better illustrated than the literally thousands of hours he poured into transforming a tin shed at Tukapa into the present, modern facility.

Earby went on to become president and a life member of the Paritutu Bowling Club.

His most notable performance on the greens came in making the semifinals of the Christmas pairs in December 1999 with his great friend Des Bishop.

He was predeceased by his wife, June, and is survived by their three children.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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