Betty Tillotson, 96, a legend in the dance community, passed away peacefully and gracefully on May 19, 2020. She was born on June 19, 1923 in Kansas City, Kansas to Claude and May Tillotson. She had one brother, William Duane, who died as a child. She is survived by cousins Kathleen Warner and Kevan Evans of Seattle, Washington.
Betty graduated from Wyandotte High School and earned degrees in history and languages in 1947 from Park University in Parkville, Missouri. She was recognized as a distinguished Alumnus in 2003. Betty was always interested in England and the Royal Family. She felt very special that she was able to attend the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in London in 1953. She worked as a private secretary for David Beatty until he closed his Westport area business in 1995. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Dance Masters of America, the American Legion Auxiliary, and the Waldo Business Association just to mention a few. She was a huge supporter of the Waldo Festival for 27 years since its beginning. She served as Waldo Historian and also as the Mayor of Waldo in 2010. She received the Waldo Legacy Award in 2018 and authored a book about the history of Waldo. Betty was a devout Christian and a longtime member of the Keystone Methodist Church, formerly the Broadway United Methodist Church. She attended her weekly church services and bible study classes until the time of her death. She also loved teaching Sunday school classes.
"Five, Six, Seven, Eight." Dance was Bettys first love, she started dancing at the age of 4 in KCK and transferred to Myldred Lyons at the age of 14.
She was a Lyonette at USO shows and swing shifts at ammunition plants. She began spending weeks of her summers in New York and in Florida taking dance lessons from Jack Stanley and many other teachers. Her career as a dance teacher started when she was a teenager, teaching tap, ballet and jazz in her home to neighborhood children. Eventually as her classes grew she opened a studio in Waldo. She founded the Kansas City Tap and Musical Dance Company in 1977. To challenge her dancers she brought in some famous tap dancers: Jack Stanley, Arthur Duncan, and the McFadden Brothers. Her yearly recitals were held at the Waldo Theater, Southwest High School, Lyric Theater, and later at the historic Folly Theater. Three generations of dancers learned and have been forever influenced by Bettys passion, evergy, and patience. Her students danced in Salamanca, Mexico, in 1978; at the Worlds Fair in Seville, Spain in 1992; and Hanover, Germany in 2000. They danced at Dance Masters competitions in New York, Philadelphia, Rochester, Orlando, and many others. In 2014 the dance school transitioned to become the Betty Tillotson and Lorna Sherer Studio of Dance. Three years later in 2017 it became the Lorna Sherer Studio of Dance. Since then Betty drove to the dance studio to oversee activities and also to teach a couple of adult classes. We are certain she has joined a new kick line and is still tapping away to her heart's content!
Betty enjoyed history, reading, traveling, Broadway shows (especially 42nd Street), eating sweets, visiting with friends and colleagues, and a well made Manhattan. She had a legacy of spreading joy and goodness lovingly throughout her life. The lights of Broadway are dark right now because of the Coronavirus. But somewhere in the wings, just off stage, there is a light shining brightly, making sure things are going smoothly as we dance through life. We love you Betty, and we will miss you dearly!
Arrangements are under the care of the Muehlebach Funeral Home in Kansas City, Missouri. To preserve the art of dance, memorial contributions for Betty will be accepted. A Go Fund Me Account has been set up at Lornas Studio of Dance to help with end of life preparations. If you prefer, a check may be sent to 209 East Gregory Blvd., Kansas City, Missoui, 64114, payable to Lorna Sherer. Any donations that exceed burial expenses will be joyously given to Bettys Church, the Keystone Methodist Church. Because of COVID19 a service will not be held at this time. A celebration of life will take place at a later date. Please sign the guest book online and if you wish share a favorite memory of our beautiful Miss Betty.
With a heavy heart to our brilliant shining star
We want to thank you for so many
Beautiful memories you have graced us with
We are sending you many Hugs and Kisses
We Love You Betty