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Laurie Rogers obituary: The Courier reporter who made his mark on Forfar

Laurie Rogers in 2019.
Laurie Rogers in 2019.

Laurie Rogers, former Courier reporter and one of Forfar’s most prominent citizens, has died aged 93.

He was head of the newspaper’s Forfar office from 1966 to 1994 following spells in Arbroath and Montrose.

Laurie’s influence and legacy went well beyond the news pages. He was deeply involved in many community activities and wrote books on walking routes and military history.

Personality

His sociable personality endeared him to generations of Forfarians and this trait assisted greatly in his work.

Former colleagues said he could stand at The Cross for 20 minutes and be approached by so many people and gather enough stories to fill his notebook.

While that is true, Laurie’s approach to work was not passive. He worked tirelessly to reflect what was happening in the community and he did so in a warm and engaging manner.

David McGregor of Forfar Athletic said he was honoured to have been a friend of Laurie’s.

And Graham Brown, one of The Courier’s most senior reporters who worked closely with Laurie, described him as unflappable and unfailingly courteous.

Laurence Rogers was born in September 1928 in Glenglassaugh, Banffshire, in the manager’s house of a distillery while his father taught music at schools in the area.

Laurie Rogers at the former military base at Montreathmont.
Laurie Rogers at the former military base at Montreathmont in Forfar.

He began his education at Inverurie and completed it at Inverness Academy.

After school came National Service during which time he became a sergeant in the Army Educational Corps.

In his second year of National Service, he was posted to the Canal Zone in Egypt. The high point of this posting was a period of leave spent with two friends with whom he travelled by train down to Luxor and Abu Simbel.

When he returned to civilian life, Laurie began work on a weekly newspaper in Inverness before joining publishers DC Thomson.

His early years with the company were spent first in Arbroath and then Montrose.

As he worked three or four evenings a week, he often had time off in the afternoon. It was long enough for a game of tennis and that is how he met his future wife, Margaret.

The couple married in October 1962 and had two sons, Mark and Graeme. Laurie moved to The Courier’s Forfar office in 1966.

Leisure

Laurie, Margaret and the boys enjoyed walking in the Angus Glens and later took family holidays to France, Spain and Italy.

After Mark and Graeme had left for university, Laurie and Margaret travelled widely and took walking holidays in the Alps and Pyrenees and visited Syria, Jordan and the Baltic countries.

Also memorable were sailing holidays with Morris and Betty Yeaman in the west of Scotland and through the French canals.

Community

Laurie was a member of Forfar Rotary Club, and latterly the Probus Club.

In his retirement he wrote a 30th anniversary book about Forfar Guide Dog Centre, and also compiled a book of historic walks around Forfar which he and Margaret tramped out together.

Laurie maintained a keen interest in military and local history, and though retired, wrote several articles for The Courier, including one on PO Box 25, a secret Second World War listening post in Montreathmont Forest, another on Auldbar Naval Air Station near Brechin, and another on the hunting of the German battleship Tirpitz.

Football

David McGregor said that during the 1970s, Laurie ghost wrote the Forfar Athletic manager’s comments for the club programmes and provided invaluable advice in the penning of the club’s centenary book.

He said: “Laurie, an adopted Forfarian, was a well-known figure around the town, a great raconteur with a vast knowledge on many subjects both local, national and otherwise.

“It was simply always a pleasure to be in his company.”

Laurie’s former colleague Graham Brown said Forfar has lost a true gentleman and Angus journalism the doyen of his era.

Mentor

His tutelage became the cornerstone on which many young journalists built their careers said Graham.

“I count myself among those who consider him unrivalled as a mentor and friend.
In Forfar, Laurie knew everyone, and everyone knew him.

“He was unflappable and unfailingly courteous to any and all he encountered. From the scaffie to the sheriff, they all valued his friendliness, integrity and professionalism.”

Graham recalled that Laurie possessed immaculate shorthand, a talent which would see him head from a marathon late-night council meeting to phone a 1,000-word story straight from his notebook to a copy typist in Dundee.

Laurie Rogers in the Osnaburg, Forfar.
Laurie Rogers in the Osnaburg, Forfar.

Deciphering his handwriting in the Forfar office diary was often a challenge for his succession of young trainees and the days of typewritten copy meant a tidy desk was a rarity.

Graham explained: “Laurie once received a late-night call from police to say the Osnaburg Street window had been smashed and the office ransacked.

“He arrived soon after to survey the scene and replied: ‘I do believe they may have tidied it’.”

Social

Graham often joined Laurie at Friday tea-time gatherings in the Osnaburg which were an effective and enjoyable form of social networking.

“Laurie Rogers may not have been town born, but in every sense he was the grandest of Farfar loons.

“To his wife, Margaret, sons Mark and Graeme and their families, I offer my most heartfelt condolences.”

You can read the family’s announcement here.

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