- His Story (7 November 2008)

Ernie was born into the family of Ruby & John Evans on the 12th April 1917. He grew up in St Marys, which in those days was a small rural town on the edge of western Sydney.

Ernie left school and found work in the meat works at Riverstone, riding his push-bike from St Marys to Riverstone and back every day. Later on he worked at Cuckson's factory in St Mary's and later spent several years on the railways working on the electrification of the western line from Penrith to Lithgow.

Ernie married Clara Gassman, a local in 1942 in St Marys & they settled into married life together at St Marys where they spent their lives. It was here, at home, that their first daughter, Barbara was born, followed by their son Ernie and second daughter Sandra.

From an early age Ernie was a keen sportsman, playing both cricket and rugby league for St Marys. Barbara remembers the day her father walked in at home from a cricket match, resplendent in his whites, but with blood streaming down his face and onto his white shirt - the result of being hit in the ear by a cricket ball. The only time he came close to scoring a try at footy, a lady on the sidelines stuck out her umbrella and tripped him, so the opportunity was snatched from him.

For over 60 years Ernie kept pigeons and raced them, with many cups and trophies to track his success. One highlight was the time he won the All Age Derby. The pigeon club was a large part of his life. Initially the St Marys Pigeon Club met in a shed at Ernie's place. When that folded he joined the Blacktown Club, transferring back to St Marys when that club recommenced. When Clara died back in 1984, Ernie was close to retirement age, taking the opportunity to invest his time in his pigeons. He also had a lawn mowing run, doing the lawns for a group of women to whom he often referred to as his 'old girls' although most of them were younger than he was.

Ernie became a member of the Bush Fire Brigade, now known as the Rural Fire Service, doing his bit for his community in this role for more than 30 years, He was proud to be given the Queens Service Medal on completing 25 years with the brigade. In recent years he joined the St Marys Historical Society and was involved in restoring an old horse drawn bullock wagon from its resting place in a paddock out at Forbes. The wagon had been built in Bennett's factory in St Marys, so it was brought down from Forbes to take pride of place in the Back to St Marys celebrations and can still be seen in South Creek Park today.

Ernie was a close and loving Pa to his grandchildren, although he did not see them as often as he wished as they all lived up in Queensland.

Ernie has enjoyed excellent health throughout most of his life. When he became ill about 3 months ago he refused to go to the doctor, and such was his stubborn nature, he even refused to go in the ambulance that had been called for him. As a result he was not treated so his condition declined rapidly, until he slipped away from us at home on Thursday.