I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Laurie Bisman who died aged 63.
Although not recently active in origami circles Laurie was an energetic member of the BOS back in the 1970's and 80's and lived in Christchurch New Zealand. We first corresponded in around 1974 when I was supplies secretary. As was my way in the early days I sent a handwritten letter and a folded model with every order dispatched.
Laurie was one of many that replied and so started a long period of correspondence, first by conventional letter then by audio cassette tape (all of which I still have) Laurie was our first New Zealand BOS member and when Gerry Walmsley, also from near Christchurch joined Laurie started his own mini meetings, or 'very mini meetings' as he called them when he and Gerry would meet regularly for an afternoon and evening of folding. It was via cassette tape that I contributed to their mini meetings by teaching a fold by audio only - not easy - try it sometime!
Laurie introduced and enthused a large number of New Zealand folk into the pleasures of origami through his frequent classes and demonstrations. He featured as 'The Paper Man' in a weekly children's television series wearing a shirt, dungarees made to look as if they were made from newspaper, with a traditional paper hat made from newspaper and grey face makeup to match the clothing. I can't remember the name of the program but it spread the New Zealand origami interest further.
We met on two occasions during his visits to England. Laurie was married to Pam, who had emigrated to NZ but whose parents still lived in London. We welcomed them to stay with us for a few weeks and managed on both occasions to coincide with BOS conventions at The Cobden Hotel, Birmingham. Laurie was keen on snooker and easily beat me each time we played. Children did not feature in their lives but cats did. Laurie and Pam had dozens of them - mainly cats taken in out of kindness and given a good home. Laurie dabbled in magic and liked mathematical conundrums and puzzles.
He was employed as a telecommunications (radio and telegraph operator) for Telecon, the NZ equivalent of BT and one of his party tricks when we exchanged cassette tapes was to include morse code messages which he tapped out at an amazing speed. I had to take his word for it when he transcribed the messages as I didn't have a clue! Laurie moved into mainframe computing in the 1970 and then onto PCs when they began to be embraced by business. In 1978 Laurie purchased what was to be the first TRS-80 home computer into NZ and together with three other enthusiasts started the Christchurch Personal Computer Users Group in 1985, another first. Unable to relocate to the North Island Laurie took redundancy from Telecon in 1992 and became a computer systems lecturer at Vision College where he quickly became known as a champion for computer technology. He excelled at teaching computer languages and many glowing reviews can be found praising his teaching skills.
Laurie was creative in origami and had models published in Robert Harbin's books. He was an excellent illustrator and drew diagrams for his own and other creators models. He started a monthly origami newsletter - Kiwi Talk to which I frequently contributed origami diagrams, which ran for about 5 years. His web site http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~lbisman/Origami.html is still up but has not been updated for many years and was one of the first origami sites in the early days of the internet.
Our correspondence lapsed in the mid 1990's I'm sorry to say, and except for the odd email and Christmas greeting we all but lost touch.
Farewell Laurie, I will always remember you with fondness and a massive thank you for your massive origami contribution.
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