Who is Betty Thompson?
Betty Thompson-Bauman (1934-1994) was born in Walkerton and raised in Peterborough, Ontario. She studied broadcasting at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and graduated teachers college with the McGraw-Hill award for leadership.
Betty spent most of her career at CKCO-TV in Kitchener, Ontario. She hosted CTV’s Romper Room, a children's programme seen on twenty major stations across Canada. She went on to host other television shows at CKCO (Betty and Friends and Morning Magazine) and in 1992 became CKCO’s community relations coordinator.
Betty was one of the founding members of the Zonta Club of Kitchener-Waterloo. She served on the boards of such organizations as the Salvation Army, the John Howard Society, the Victorian Order of Nurses, the United Way, and Parents are People Too. She was the first woman director on the Board of Oktoberfest, and chair and originator of the Oktoberfest Women’s Committee. She chaired the Special Events Committee during the 1977 and 1990 Ontario Summer Games. Betty was the President of Big Sisters of Kitchener-Waterloo, and that organization named its down-town housing project for homeless youth the Betty Thompson House. Now operated by Lutherwood, Betty Thompson Youth Centre has since become the site for the work of a number of social services dedicated to housing support and youth.
Betty received numerous awards and recognition for her contributions to charitable causes. When Betty was named the Kitchener-Waterloo Citizen of the Year in 1992, then mayor of Waterloo, Brian Turnbull, called her a “hero in our community”. She remains a community icon for her generosity and leadership.
Her diagnosis of breast cancer in 1990 was devastating, however, true to form, Betty turned her misfortune into a public campaign to encourage women to undergo regular breast examinations. The annual Betty Thompson Golf Classic began in 1992 as a financial support for breast cancer education and research.
Betty died from the disease in 1994. It is fitting that even long after her death, Betty Thompson’s name is being used to help those in need. Her motivation was simple, “I just feel you take from the community, you have to put back.”