Celebrating A Life of Beloved
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.
Her Spirit Soars, yet will forever be with us through the bonds of love we shared.
Betty graduated from Wyandottet High School and earned degrees in history and languages in 1947 from Park University in Parkville, Missouri. She was distinguished Alumnus in 2003. Betty always was 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 from 1934 to1995 at David Beatty Stereo. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Dance Masters of America, the American Legion Auxiliary, and the Waldo Area Business Association. She served as Waldo Historian and also as the Mayor of Waldo. She received the Waldo Legacy Award in 2018, and she 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 church services and bible study classes until the time of her death. She also taught Sunday school classes.
“Five, six, seven, eight….” Dance was Betty’s first love, starting at 4 years old as she took classes in Kansas City, Kansas. Then continuing her dance training at the Myldred Lyons Dance Studio. at the Myldred Lyons Dance Studio. 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 Tap and Musical Comedy 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, and later at the historical Folly Theater.
Three generations of dancers learned and have been forever influenced by Betty’s passion, energy, and patience. Her students have danced in Mexico, and at World’s Fairs in Seville, Spain in 1992, and Germany in 2000. They danced at Dance Master’s 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. Recent years Betty drove to the dance studio to oversee activities, and alsoteach a couple of adult classes.
We would like to think that she has joined a new kick line and is still tapping!
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, making sure things are going smoothly as we dance through life.
Betty felt very blessed for her entire life, it is not surprising that her favorite verses reflect that joy. Psalm 150 was at the top of her list:
"Praise the Lord
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mightiest heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
Praise him with trimbrel and dancing,
praise him with strings and pipe,
Praise him with the class of cymbals
Praise him with resounding cymbals."
Betty radiated joy in her life and all who knew her were blessed. The past ninety-seven years were
Another of her favorite passages from Ecclesiates:
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God."
We love you Betty, and we will miss you dearly!