Elsie Lorraine (Laughlin) Williams 1932 - 2021

Elsie Williams, age 89, of McMinnville, Oregon, passed away  August 12, 2021, in McMinnville.

Elsie was born on the family homestead east of Yamhill, Oregon, in the house built by her great-grandfather, W.R. Laughlin. She helped on the family farm that raised turkeys, goats and cows. They also raised horses for farming and logging, and she learned to drive tractors. She attended school in the Yamhill School District, graduating from Yamhill High School in 1950.

Elsie attended Oregon State College, graduating in 1954 with a degree in education. She lived in the Jameson House Co-op for four years, serving in various positions and culminating as house president in 1954. She was active in intermural sports, a member of Talons, Orange O and president of the Women’s Recreation Association. Elsie was selected for Mortar Board, Kappa Delta Pi and Women of Achievement.

Elsie accepted a health and P.E. teaching position in Milton-Freewater at McLoughlin Union High School (Mac Hi) beginning in the fall of 1954 for an annual salary of $3,550. She met her future husband, Jack Williams, who immediately noticed the good-looking redhead with the baby blue Oldsmobile 98. Little did he know the fire behind the smile. After some prodding by Elsie, Jack proposed, and they were married August 17, 1957, in McMinnville, followed by a reception in Yamhill which would be remembered for many years.

Elsie was a trail blazer for women educators and coaches. In her 30 years at Mac Hi, Elsie started and organized many sports-related activities for the young women she taught. She was the Adviser for Pep Club, Drill Team, Cheerleaders, GAA, Red M and State GAA Officers. Elsie organized the Girls Athletic Association (GAA), introduced gymnastics in 1963, and started inter-scholastic competition in 1969. She also coached and initiated girls' track from 1963 through 1988. She coached numerous state qualifiers and champions in both gymnastics and track.

Elsie retired in 1988 and moved to McMinnville in 1990, where they built their retirement house. The home was surrounded by colorful flowers and always decorated for every season and holiday. She capped her gardening abilities this year with receiving McMinnville Garden of the Month. They enjoyed trips to the beach, Mexico, Hawaii, Idaho and, most of all, spending time with grandchildren.

Elsie was a longtime member of PEO Chapters EV of Milton-Freewater and FG of McMinnville, where she served as treasurer, corresponding secretary and Chapter president. She also served as Tri-Chair for the State PEO Convention in 1996. She was a past member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Milton-Freewater, and an active member of First Presbyterian Church in McMinnville, where she served as church deacon, assisted in rummage sales, chairman of the harvest sale and member of the building and grounds committee. She was artistically prolific in quilting, sewing, needlepoint and woodcarving. Idle time was never on her agenda.

Elsie bled orange and black her entire life, and one of Elsie’s greatest joys was that her children and grandchildren were all OSU graduates. She was an avid OSU sports fan no matter the record and enjoyed attending games on campus.

Elsie was preceded in death by her husband, Jack; and her brother, William “Bud” Ray Laughlin. She is survived by her three siblings, Dorothy Skuzeski and Carolyn DeCrevel, both of Yamhill, and Charlie Laughlin of McMinnville. She is also survived by her son, Greg Williams (Mel) of Richland Washington; and daughter, Lori Burton (Mike) of McMinnville; one granddaughter, Stephanie Burton Overgaard (David) of Boise, Idaho; two grandsons, Jeff Burton of San Francisco, and Fred Williams of Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is also survived by one great-granddaughter, Kathryn Ruth Overgaard.

Services for Elsie will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, August 28, at First Presbyterian Church in McMinnville, with a reception to follow at the home of Pete and Carolyn DeCrevel near Yamhill.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Macy & Son, 135 N.E. Evans St, McMinnville, Oregon for the following: Charles and Carrie Laughlin Scholarship at Yamhill-Carlton High School, PEO Chapter FG of McMinnville, Oregon, PEO Chapter EV of Milton-Freewater, Oregon, McMinnville Oregon First Presbyterian Church, Milton-Freewater Oregon Grace Presbyterian Church. To leave condolences, visit www.macyandson.com.


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