Alumni Profiles     

Betty Tillotson, ’47
Marlowe Sherwood Memorial
              Service Award, 2003


In January the Park University Alumni Council voted to consolidate and rename the various service awards to honor the late Marlowe Sherwood, ’63. The first recipient of the Marlowe Sherwood Memorial Service Award is fittingly a Park alumna who shares Marlowe’s outstanding dedication to her local community. The 2003 award recipient is Betty Tillotson, ’47.

In 1950, shortly after graduation from Park, Tillotson opened the Betty Tillotson School of Dance in the Waldo area of south Kansas City, Mo. During the past 53 years she has taught dance to three generations of students, ranging in age from three to adult. Her customer base has spread outside her small community to cover the entire Greater Kansas City area as former students return to their highly-respected teacher with their children.

Beyond the studio, Tillotson leads groups of students, as young as twelve years old, on national and international tours, including the 1992 World’s Fair in Seville, Spain, and the 2000 World’s Fair in Hamburg, Germany. In 1977 she formed the Kansas City Tap and Musical Comedy Dance Company. This group is comprised of tap dancers, ranging in age from fifteen years to adult. The company performs at conventions, parties and in productions, generally with a 1940s or big band theme. A junior group, ages ten through fourteen, also performs. Tillotson was unable to appear at the awards banquet because of a performance schedule conflict. The tap company’s annual recital was the same evening at the Folly Theater in Kansas City, and, as usual, Tillotson performed onstage in the finale.

In addition to performing with her students, occasionally Tillotson performs solo. In 1999 she participated in the Ms. Missouri “Best of Times” pageant where she performed a dance routine. Participants were selected for their “poise, vitality and fitness.”

For 35 years Tillotson has been an active member of Dance Masters of America, an international organization of certified dance instructors. Additionally, Tillotson is currently president of the local Heart of America Chapter.

She also finds time to stay busy with civic activities in the Waldo area. Waldo, once an independent community, was annexed into Kansas City in 1909. However, nearly a century later, the urban community still maintains a sense of unity among its businesses and residents. This unified spirit is due largely to the efforts of the Waldo Area Business Association of which Betty Tillotson has been an active leader for many years. Currently she is an advisory director of the association and its historian. One of her most recent and notable projects is A History of Waldo, a publication she completed in 2000. Funds generated from this publication will be used for the maintenance of a fountain being constructed in Waldo at 75th and Wornall Road. For the last ten years Tillotson has helped to organize and run the Waldo Fall Festival, bringing the residents and businesses together for a day of family fun and activities. Tillotson is a member of the Broadway United Methodist Church and is active in the church’s community projects.

Betty Tillotson graduated with a degree in history and languages. It is evident that she has taken the lessons of her days at Park and used them well. “Fides et labor” carries on through the fancy footwork of this outstanding alumna. Our congratulations to Betty Tillotson!