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Remembering Elizabeth – SA Business Woman

There are certainly some people who come into our lives for a reason. A little under two years ago, I was lucky enough to be introduced to an amazing woman by the name of Elizabeth Manley. At the time she was simply introduced to me as an elderly lady whom would be a new client of ours. I would take her grocery shopping, to appointments, and even be paid to have coffee and morning tea with her at her favourite local cafe! I couldn’t argue with that.

It was over these coffees, she a latte, me a cappuccino or a green tea at her favourite Millie’s Cafe, that I discovered what a remarkable life Elizabeth had lived. She had even published her own book which she proudly handed to me very early on in our weekly catch ups.

What I discovered through reading Elizabeth’s book, as well as during our conversations, was a woman who should not be forgotten, and whom I feel should be recognised in the South Australian business community. As a young woman of business who tries her best to follow amazing business people, why had I never heard of Elizabeth Manley?

Elizabeth was a pioneering woman in South Australian business. Elizabeth led her own award-winning advertising agency when very few other women, if any, were doing so. She was named the first South Australia’s Advertising Woman of the Year in 1968, became the first female President of AIM (SA) and then a Commissioner of Telecom Australia. In 1979 she was named the Bulletin/Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year, receiving her award from Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. Then in 1982 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire for services to the Advertising industry.

All of these achievements, amazing even in this decade, where unheard of during the time of Elizabeth’s business career. Not only this, she was a widowed mother of three young children, supporting her family, whilst also having a large involvement in Adelaide’s music and art communities. As a mother of a six month old, with a husband working full time in our business, plus the almost universally accepted notion of a woman running her own business, I can only imagine the struggle and juggle Elizabeth experienced as a business woman and mother of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

Last week I attended Elizabeth’s memorial service. She had passed away peacefully, if somewhat suddenly, at the age of 84. In the last few years of her life Elizabeth had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Despite this, I was continually amazed by Elizabeth’s pure joy for life and would regularly wonder why I hadn’t met Elizabeth before, but being so thankful that we had met at all. As we would drive to and from the shops or appointments she was continually pointing out beautiful flowering trees (I would take photographs and email them to her!), describe to me what particular streets used to look like, or point out her advertising offices on Greenhill Road.  I particularly enjoyed this description of Elizabeth’s office from an Advertiser article on Tuesday February 23rd 1971

“Her dream office at Eastwood, with its Fijian cedar panelling, shaggy, tobacco-brown carpet and private sun balcony overlooking the parklands, spells success and prestige……”

Elizabeth would even help me with my own marketing, discussing my logo, the set up of our new offices or other ways to get the word out about our services. Even then, I possibly didn’t recognise the calibre of the advertising professional I was talking to.

I know that I will always be thankful for having met Elizabeth, and when time gets tough as a woman in business, I will think of Elizabeth and realise that perhaps I don’t have it quite as tough as Elizabeth did. Note the following from the same Advertiser article-

“She believes there are unlimited opportunities for a woman in the advertising world – ‘But she must have drive, enthusiasm and the ability to
learn quickly and be adaptable. If she’s prepared to give up her tea-parties, golf and week-ends of leisure, making her work her vocation, then she can make a success of any job in advertising.”

Luckily for me, I’m not very good at golf!

If I can achieve even a quarter of what Elizabeth achieved in her lifetime as a business woman, a mother and a friend, then I will have lived a very full life.

Tim, Emma and I would like to offer our condolences to Elizabeth’s children Ashleigh, Lynton and Jenie and their families, and a big thank you to Brian Hern for introducing me to Elizabeth in the first place.

Elizabeth (aged 84) with Harper (aged 3 months). 

  • Bhern

    Dear Abbie,
    Thank you so much for the wonderful account of Elizabeth.  You should have been the one speaking at her Memorial Service.  It has brought back a flood of memories.  Thank you so much to you and your team for being so absolutely professional and still maintaining compassion and care.  You have set the standard for a Personal Concierge.
    Brian Hern

  • Thank you Brian. It was an honour to have known her for only a short time. Your words at the memorial were lovely and gave me a lot more insights into Elizabeth and her life. I loved working for Elizabeth, and also becoming her friend.

  • Jenie Yolland nee Manley

    Thank you very much for the beautiful words you have written about my mother.  You and Tim looked after her, as Brian said, professionally whilst maintaining compassion and care.  We cannot thank you enough. 
    Jenie Yolland (nee Manley)

  • Thank you Jenie. We were so pleased to have met and enjoyed time with Elizabeth. She will not be forgotten by our family.