After high school graduation, Elizabeth studied at
the Armstrong Normal School and prepared to teach. Later she enrolled
as the only female student in the Theological Seminary of Virginia Union
Edward H. Bouey, a product of Morehouse College, was also the son of
missionary parents who had served in Africa . He had dedicated himself
to mission work and desired to go to Africa for work as soon as he could
find a wife with similar desires. He corresponded with, and soon met,
Elizabeth . It seems that their marriage was "made in heaven",
for he proposed to her upon their first meeting. On his third visit to
Richmond they were married at the Ebenezer Baptist Church , April 28,
1920 , and very soon thereafter set sail for Liberia , West Africa ,
as Independent Missionaries. They had ambitious plans to re-establish
the Bendoo Industrial Mission Station, a place where the parents of the
couple had many years before carried on the work of the Lord.
The efforts of Rev. and Mrs. Bouey at the mission were wonderfully blessed
as boys and girls from many tribes were brought to the station for Christian
Education. Support was generously given the young couple by family and
friends in America , who twice a month sent boxes of needed supplies
from the Coles' home in Richmond which served as headquarters. For nearly
five years, Rev. and Mrs. Bouey worked at the Bendoo Industrial Mission
. Two of their children were born there, and they adopted a boy of the
Golah Tribe who was a promising student at the mission. The Boueys returned
to America for a short furlough and then went back to Africa to work
under the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention. This
time they built the Carrie Dyer Hospital in Monrovia , Liberia and in
many other ways strengthened the program of missions in the country.
It has been reported that the Boueys are still remembered in Africa
through the work of their children. One daughter, Elizabeth, works with
the N.E.A. in the program of Educational Assistance and the U.S. State
Department in West Africa . The two sons have become citizens and are
employed in Liberia .
Mrs. Bouey's life was a long one of fruitful works. She gave a total
of thirty-one years as a teacher in the United States . For twelve years
she taught the Young Women's Bible Class at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church
in Richmond , Virginia . She was a regular speaker for the women at the
State Prison Farm in Goochland , Virginia , and made weekly radio broadcasts
for the Baptist Allied religious organizations, as well as several local,
national and international groups.
Her work for the ministers' wives began in the fall of 1940, when, guided
by the hand of God, Elizabeth Coles Bouey issued a call to ministers'
wives and ministers' widows for the purpose of uniting unto one Christian
fellowship, ministers' wives and ministers' widows of the various religious
denominations for greater and more effective service in kingdom building.
Present at this meeting were Mesdames W.W. Blackwell, Annie J. Jackson,
Winnie S. Jennings, Mary M. Ransome, Ora Brown Stokes, Ellen C. Thompson
and Mrs. Bouey. For several months these women visited and talked with
the wives of the clergymen in many sections of Virginia . Mrs. Ellen
Thompson, the only surviving committee member, fondly recalls the innumerable
hours they spent traveling with Mrs. Bouey, on foot and car, to get in
touch with prospective members. They were often accompanied on these
excursions by their husbands. In addition to the recruitment in Virginia
, letters were sent to ministers' wives and ministers' widows throughout
the United States . Thus from house to house meetings, personal contacts
and correspondence, the National Association of Ministers' Wives was
born. The first conference was held on April 8, 1941 , at the Second
Baptist Church , Richmond , Virginia , of which the late Rev. Joseph
T. Hill was pastor.
Under Mrs. Bouey's seventeen year term as President, much was accomplished.
Ministers' wives from more than thirty states, the District of Columbia
, West Africa and eight denominations became affiliated. The Ministers'
Wives' Herald was started, the Edra M. Hilliard Trophy was first presented,
the Ministers' Wife of the Year Plaque was initiated, and the Life Membership
Department was organized. In addition, the Silver Loving Membership Cup
was first given, the State Crown for financial effort was initiated,
Prayer Group Certificates were originated and State units came into being.
The NAMW Home at 425 N. 32nd Street in Richmond , Virginia , was purchased
in September 1954, at a cost of $13,250.00. The utilization of Faith
- Love - Prayer bore much fruit.
Mrs. Bouey traveled extensively. Her work and interest took her to African
and European countries. She was honored in Copenhagen at a Christian
World Assembly and participated in many meetings of the Baptist World
Alliance . Her last and most important trip was to the Holy Land in 1955,
with a tour group led by Dr. Charles L. Evans of Richmond. She was not
well, and had to be supported by her husband, but her greatest desire
had been fulfilled. She had walked where her Master walked in the streets
of Jerusalem . She and Rev. Bouey had both been re-baptized in the River
Jordan by Dr. Edward D. McCreary, also of Richmond . She had visited
the Mount of Olives , the Garden of Gethsemane , Calvary and other places
of Biblical interest.
Her last attendance at the National Conference was in 1956 in Washington
, D.C. , when she became so ill that she was returned to her home in
Richmond by ambulance. After many months of illness, Mrs. Bouey passed
away on February 5, 1957. Her body lay for several days in the Prayer
Room of her home, a room in which she had met God many times. Death to
her was a joyous home-going and she wanted all of her friends to rejoice,
that she had now entered a richer, more beautiful life.