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Alexander Ramsay

1914 – 1978

Alexander Ramsay CBE (1914-1978), public servant, trained and worked as a teacher before gaining his degree at the University of Adelaide in 1941. Not long after, he was a founder of a movement called Common Cause, encouraging community cooperation to achieve not only victory in war, but postwar equality of opportunity and advantage. Ramsay was the public face of the movement until 1949; it attracted thousands of members and achieved community progress. Meanwhile, in 1943, Ramsay was appointed to the South Australian Housing Trust, with which he was to remain all his life. General manager of the Trust from 1949, dubbed South Australia's 'Mr Housing', he met urgent postwar housing needs and later oversaw the establishment of Elizabeth, a whole new town on Adelaide's northern fringe. In the 1950s he elected to stay in South Australia rather than move to Canberra to direct the NCDC. He wrote a key article on 'The Public Service as Vocation' in 1969. Having served three other state premiers, under Don Dunstan he took on additional responsibilities for accommodating the especially needy and vulnerable. He was involved with a great many beneficent bodies including the ABC, the Australian Institute of Urban Studies, the Boy Scouts, Meal on Wheels and the YMCA, was a pioneer of asthma research bodies in South Australia and was Commodore of the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron.

Updated 2018