Elizabeth Coulter: People's person who treated princes and paupers the same
ELIZABETH Coulter will be remembered as a people’s person.
She took a genuine delight in opportunities to meet men, women and children from all walks of life, and they immediately warmed to her when they encountered her compassion and humility.
She had the confidence and ability to mix with princes and paupers alike and treat them equally with courtesy and respect.
Elizabeth took these qualities into her role as her husband Robert's constituency worker in his North Antrim assembly office after he entered politics in 1985 as a Ballymena borough councillor for the UUP.
And it will be the caring and dedicated manner in which she conducted herself as mayoress of Ballymena from 1993-96 for which she will be remembered most in terms of politics.
A keen cook, her home-made apple tarts were a ‘must taste’ during political talks at the family home on the Springmount Road, near Clough village.
Mrs Coulter’s lineage was one of fine farming stock.
She was born in 1932 as the middle of three daughters to Alexander and Annie Holmes in Lisnalinchey, Ballyclare.
The young Elizabeth was educated at Ballylinney Primary School until her father took the decision to sell the family farm in light of the fact that he had not been blessed with a son to continue the tradition.
They moved to Dundonald and her education continued at locally until she graduated to Belfast Secretarial College, and later employment with a shipping company.
Life as a working girl was short-lived, however, ending when she married a young evangelist known as Bobby in 1956.
They first met when he took part in an open air Irish Evangelical Society meeting beside the sea at Portrush.
Elizabeth had become a ‘born again’ Christian at an early age and her faith was a bedrock of her life.
She supported her husband as he entered study for the Presbyterian Church, first as assistant minister in Westbourne in east Belfast, moving to the rural congregation of Clough, near Ballymena, in 1963.
As the minister’s wife she played an active role in the Women’s Missionary Association.
Likewise, she became a very strong source of encouragement to their son John and his younger sister Elizabeth in both their studies and respective careers.
Affectionately known as ‘Gran’ to her grandsons Daniel and Adam, she was also exceptionally enthusiastic about the former’s role as a professional actor, and in helping Adam cope with his severe autism.
Elizabeth Coulter died after a long illness on January 8. She was 87.
The high esteem with which she was held was clearly demonstrated by the tremendous attendance at her Service of Thanksgiving in Clough Presbyterian Church.
She was laid to rest with her late husband in the family plot in Clough cemetery.
She is survived by her son John, daughter Elizabeth, daughter in law Sharon, son in law Nick, grandsons Daniel and Adam, and her younger sister Agnes.