A Remembrance of Elise “Butch” Wallace
Cotting School Trustee Emerita
Butch Wallace welcomed me to the Cotting School community 15 years ago, when I was named the “new” President. Upon meeting this wonderful, kind lady, whose rich history with our school dated to 1971, I wondered, how can I ever address her by her nickname?
It was soon very easy to call her Butch, for she made me feel at ease. Like everyone she met at Cotting School – student, staff, parent or fellow Cotting School Trustee – Butch greeted us as her special friends with warmth and dignity.
Her death leaves a giant hole in the collective hearts of all of us.
It seemed appropriate to me that yesterday’s memorial service for Butch was held on a perfect June day. At St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Dedham, every seat was full, as was every inch of standing room space, a testament to a life well-lived. And what a blessing that she and Neil shared their lives for 62 years, and at her memorial, to have her 5 grandchildren offer beautiful reflections about their remarkable grandmother!
Butch was introduced to Cotting, then located in downtown Boston, nearly 50 years ago, by her aunt who was a friend of our school’s namesake, Charles E. Cotting. Butch first volunteered in Mrs. Ellie Lloyd’s 1st grade classroom. Soon afterward she joined the school’s Advisory Board. In 1990 she joined our Board of Trustees and became a Trustee Emerita in 2005.
In a 2008 interview, she said, “I thought Cotting was the most wonderful place. Everyone has a smile, and it’s a very happy place. It makes you feel good when you encounter these children who have so much to offer. The student I worked with gave far more to me than I gave to him. It’s the incredible caring which the teachers show and the kids’ responses which make it different. When you walk in here, you can sense the love.”
The above photo was on the back cover of our annual report in 2011. It is so natural, so typical of Butch, bringing joy to the halls of Cotting School.
A brief personal story about Butch’s kindness: knowing of my love for kayaking she sent me the “brightest yellow” t-shirt so that I could be more easily seen on the water. When she learned that I also enjoyed winter kayaking, I received “Hot Hands” hand warmers and a warm winter hat.
She has been generous to the school in ways too numerous to mention and we have had no greater ambassador for our mission or friend to all of us. Butch will live on in the hearts of all of us at Cotting School.
David W. Manzo, President