Things were not in great shape when Laurie Sadlier was elected to the former Mulwaree Shire Council.
As his contemporary Terry Hayes tells it, back in 1974 when he was elected, it was a "pick and shovel" council in dire need of modernisation.
Mr Sadlier, from Taralga, was elected in 1977, replacing Mr Hayes in 'A ward.'
"The council turned that situation around and Laurie belonged to a succession of councils that kept that up and stuck to a vision and a plan," Mr Hayes said.
"He was a very affable bloke who could talk to most people and gave generously of his time and energy to the Shire."
Mr Sadlier passed away at a Scarborough, Queensland aged care facility on August 16, aged ninety-four.
The former Taralga man served on the old Mulwaree Shire Council, now part of Goulburn Mulwaree, from 1977 to 1991. He was president (equivalent of mayor) from 1981 to 83, 1986 to 1989 and in 1991.
He nominated after becoming fed up with constant flooding of Curraweela Creek near his home and pulling cars out of the waterway.
Mr Hayes, who was re-elected in 1981 and served to 1991, said Mr Sadlier brought his business skills to the council, acquired from his spare parts operation at Ryde.
"There was a feeling in the 1970s that the council needed change and we needed to push Mulwaree Shire into a new age...to modernise and mechanise," Mr Hayes said.
"We had to find the money to do that and we did. Laurie's greatest achievement was to maintain a stable business plan and good policy direction, particularly in planning."
He described him as "old school" and a man who believed that the majority decision should rule, even if one didn't agree.
Mr Sadlier was born in Wagga Wagga but raised mostly in Sydney. He was educated at Lindfield Primary School then North Sydney Technical High, where he played in the First XV rugby side.
In adulthood he moved from 'the big smoke' to Tandara, a property north of Taralga with then wife, Jan, and immersed himself in the community. During his time, he was most proud of facilitating transfer of a reserve for a golf course on the town's outskirts.
Later, the couple moved into Taralga and bought The Tuffet tea rooms, which Jan ran for a number of years.
Former councillor, Maureen Eddy, fondly recalled the friendly rivalry she had with Mr Sadlier after her 1987 election. She was elected to represent the riding in which Marulan fell.
"We were really good friends even though we had this joking rivalry between Taralga and Marulan and which town should get the services," she said.
"Laurie was very passionate about rural areas and one of his big things was the bushfire brigade. He was always pleasant and good fun."
As it happened, Marulan was bypassed in 1986 while Mr Sadlier was president.
Col Wotton, who was shire clerk for 25 years to the early 2000s, was his right-hand man.
"I remember him fondly as a wise man and a good friend," he told The Post.
"...He had a friendly approach, was never an authoritarian but more of a negotiator. Laurie was popular among the councillors and the public."
Mr Wotton recalled that Mr Sadlier was the first person to mention that the Woodlawn Mine near Tarago would one day make a good site to dispose of Sydney's waste. Though after his time, this occurred in the early 2000s when Collex took over the closed mine.
Former Goulburn City Mayor Tony Lamarra recalled working with Mr Sadlier on multiple issues spanning the two councils.
This included the extension of water and sewerage services to former dairy land at Run-O-Waters that Neville Burrows had purchased for a large residential estate.
On another occasion, the two councils collaborated in a tourism promotion of the area at Darling Harbour.
Mr Lamarra was elected in 1974 and served as mayor from 1985 to 1991. He was also the SES controller for Goulburn for 26 years.
"Whenever there was an emergency, I could count on Laurie's support," he said.
"We worked so well together there and on council. You couldn't wish for a better person working towards community goals. He was always there and accessible to the public."
Mr Sadlier stayed in the region for several years following his 1991 departure from Mulwaree Shire. He later moved to Woy Woy on the Central Coast and in latter years, Brisbane, to be closer to daughter Jann.
He is also survived by former wife, Jan, sons Paul and James, grandchildren, Daniel, Sarah and Genevieve and great-granddaughter, Isobel.
A private family service has been held. A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Mr Sadlier requested that his ashes be returned to Taralga.
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.