Saturday, April 4, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 154-156)

"Formation of Assocation of Civilian Widows

Mrs Rischbieth considered that help should be sought for civilian widows similar to that given to war widows under "Legacy". and to this end the Guilds called a meeting in 1953 in the Grand Theatre Building in Murray Street, Perth, with the President, Mrs W. Kastner, in the chair.

Attention was drawn to the fact that help was particularly urgent where there were growing boys who needed a man's interest.

Mr Eric Benjamin of the Guidance Branch was most helpful in planning the foundation of this association and obtained the support of Apex and Rotary Clubs which has proved invaluable.

Widowed members of the  Guilds became the first officers of the new organisation in order to give it stability, and it has grown and flourished.

Mrs Ivy Kent became the first President, Mrs I. Evers the first Hon. Treasurer, supported by Mrs Rischbieth and Mrs Evans, all of whom were well-known women in the community.

Mrs Kent fought and worked with inspired determination with the result that a national body was formed five years later.  She remained the State President until she was compelled to retire due to ill health in 1971.  In 1959 she was elected National President and later, National Life Governor.

During the war Ivy Kent founded a club for neglected girls, and was a foundation member of the National Fitness Council.  She was the first woman member of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (representing W.A.) from 1944 to 1951.

She was also a member of the Lotteries Commission and the Adult Education Board.  She was a Justice of the Peace and decorated with the M.B.W., in 1968 for her services to women and children.

As State Secretary of the Guilds at this time I helped to organise the first meeting, and was taken to see number 40 Ventnor Avenue in West Perth to confer, with others. on the proposed purchase of that building which became the first headquarters of the Association of Civilian Widows in W.A.  The Apex Club stood by and assisted A.C.W. for many years.

I had the pleasure of taking Mrs Frank, a leading officer of A.C.W. from the eastern states, to visit Mrs Rischbieth in her home one evening.  Had it not been for Mrs Bessie Rischbieth so many of these community needs would not have come to fruition.

Changes in my personal life at this time after my daughter married and my husband and I separated, made it necessary for me to obtain another position which would pay me a reasonable salary.  The Guilds gave me a farewell function and presented me with a very nice writing set as a parting gift.

I promised Mrs Rischbieth that I would become a Guild member and continue my association with the organisation, and I have kept my word in that regard.

The Guilds truly carry on their service, closely watching legislation and social needs.  The following is surely an apt memorial to the past and present members :-


On checking "Trove" I found a public notice on in the 'Western Australian newspaper of 1 October, 1954 showing the results of a raffle held for the Civilian Widows Association, which shows the Assocation was getting on well.  It is great to realise that this worthwhile association began with its roots in Western Australia.

Once again I have changed mum's words slightly.  In her book the words in the third last paragraph read "after my daughter married and I lost my husband".  Mum did not 'lose' her husband but decided they should separate after I had married.  I feel she may have waited until I was settled in my married life although of that I can not be sure.  Life can take strange turns without warning and we have to accept them.  When the separation occurred it took me by complete surprise and in later life had repercussions for me and mine but that, as I've said before, is another story.


  1. Such a busy time with the awakening of social conscience.

    1. Many people did and do have social consciences but the world could always do with far more of them.

  2. Hari OM
    Yes, as I read that line I did wonder, for I have followed the tale closely and thought it a little adrift of your mother's usual reticence! I do like the 'motto' line; an admirable view indeed. YAM xx

    1. I need to be a little nearer the truth now that mum has been gone for so long. She obviously did not want to be regarded as anything other than perfect, thus her reticence to devulge all.
      Yes, that motto line says it all doesn't it? xx

  3. Perhaps she did feel she had 'lost' the man she married, and that is why she separated? And separation was still relatively rare so she may have chosen the word for that reason too.

    1. Actually EC she gave him away. It was her idea they separate. I have often thought he actually became redundant to the new life she had discovered with the Guilds and all the other events that followed on from then.
      I hope mum will forgive me for sticking to the truth a little more than she did herself.