Lifelong contribution to Ballarat
Elsie Reid Armstrong was born on the 19th of November 1908 in Williamstown.
After moving to Ballarat at the age of two, Elsie attended Pleasant Street Primary School and Ballarat High School, where she was head prefect in 1926.
On completion of her home economics studies at Emily MacPherson College, Elsie trained as a secondary school teacher at Melbourne Teacher's College. In 1938, she married Grant Coutts and moved to his family property at Waubra.
Later, Elsie was approached to take up a teaching position at a tiny rural school threatened with closure. With two preschool children of her own, this seemed impossible. However, after much deliberation, the front room of the family home was set up as a school room. Later, when her youngest child started school, the school was moved into a tiny building, where Elsie taught for 12 years.
Active in the Guide movement, Else started a small local group where some of the girls rode their ponies to the Saturday meetings. She went on to serve as a district commissioner.
After retiring from teaching, Elsie became deeply involved in the local CWA (Country Women's Association) and was president of the Beaufort group in 1962. She later became central vice-president from 1964-65, state international secretary from 1965-67, deputy state president from 1967-69, and state president from 1969-71.
Elsie represented the CWA on the Victorian Relief Committee for many years and was on the United Nations and overseas students coordinating committee. Chairman of the Ballarat branch of the Victoria League, Elsie entertained numerous overseas visitors as well as welcoming many new settlers. The Victoria League was established in 1901 to promote and foster unity between people of all parts of the Commonwealth of Nations.
After selling the family farm in 1971 and moving into Ballarat, Elsie joined the Wendouree branch of the CWA and became a telephone counselor with Lifeline. Elsie had a wonderful sense of humor, was a natural speaker and was a woman who lived a long and fulfilled life.
Elsie passed away on the 28th April 2007 and was cremated at the Ballarat New Cemetery.