By Duane Ranger
Drivers wore black arm bands in the last event of the Waikato-BOP Harness meeting last Wednesday night as a tribute to Cambridge Raceway’s hard-working ‘behind the scenes’ quiet achiever.
Evan Victor Wilson, who was a steward at ‘The Raceway’ for several decades, passed away peacefully at the San Michele Home and Hospital, in Te Awamutu the Monday before the Cambridge meeting (March 5). He was 67.
His wife of 43 years, Pat described him as a kind, caring man, who loved people and harness racing.
“Even though he might not have always showed it Evan loved people. He wasn’t a man for the limelight, but would do anything he was asked for the club and his family. But in saying that the club did ask him to host the president’s room one night, and I think that was the only time he ever said “no”.
“That was because he liked to work behind the scenes. He didn’t want to be seen in the spotlight. He was a hard working man who went about his work with no fuss. He will be sorely missed. He has left a huge hole in our family,” Mrs Wilson said.
“I’m just so pleased he didn’t suffer for too long. He was only told of his illness seven weeks before he died,” she added.
Mr Wilson was born in Dunedin and attended Kaikorai Valley High College. On leaving school he entered the motor industry where he specialised in car parts.
“Evan had a photographic memory and he could remember serial numbers and car parts easily. He was very adept at his job. We married in 1974 and then came up to the Waikato the following year.
“That is where my family were from and Evan got a job working for a couple of Ford Dealerships until he got made redundant about 18 years ago. That’s when Sandy Yarndley of the then ‘Yarndley Farms’ (Ohaupo) stepped in.
“Evan was a steward of the club and I was on the committee and he asked me if that job I had going was still available. He applied for it and I told him I’d take him on for three weeks initially and he ended up working for me for 18 years,” Yarndley said.
“He remained with me that long because he had a very good work ethic. He was very punctual, reliable and obliging. He worked many weekends and was a huge help on the farm. He wouldn’t have lasted 18 years if he wasn’t any good. There weren’t many like Evan. He will be sorely missed,” he added.
Mrs Wilson said he loved standardbreds and didn’t hesitate going to meetings week-in-week-out on cold, winter nights.
“He loved working at both the track and working for Sandy and then later Ken and Karen Breckon when the farm changed hands. He joined the club the at the first AGM the year after we arrived up
“We have had tributes come in left, right and centre, and we are so grateful for all of them. People have been just so wonderful. It’s so heartening to think that Evan was loved and well respected by so many people,” Mrs Wilson said.
She said her husband had been interested in harness racing since his early years in Dunedin.
“Evan and his father, Les, pottered around with horses in Otago and he’s loved them ever since. They were a big part of his life. He owned a few but there were no champions. They were all pretty average,” said Mrs Wilson.
A funeral service for Mr Wilson was held at Alexandra House Chapel, 570 Alexandra St, Te Awamutu today (Friday, 9th March 9, 2018), at 11.00am. It was followed by a private cremation.
He is survived by his wife, Pat, his children Vicki and Kat; son-in-law, Jason, and his three grand children - Jamie, Crystal and Travis.