Hon. Betty Kennedy O.C., LL.D.

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Hon. Betty Margaret Hannah KENNEDY, O.C., LL.D.

January 4, 1926 - March 20, 2017

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of the Hon. Betty Kennedy, O.C., LL.D., in her 91st year. Betty was born and raised in Ottawa, the daughter of Walter Herbert Styran and Janet Kincaid (McPhee) Styran. She was married to Gerhard William Thomas Kennedy (d. 1975), and to George Allan Burton (d. 2003). She is survived and will be sadly missed by her sons Mark Kennedy (Anne Mirgalet) of Etobicoke, Shawn Kennedy (Susannah Lam) of Smithers, and D'Arcy Kennedy of Thailand; daughter Tracy Brown (Dr. David Brown) of Mono; sisters Joan Smith of Windsor and Patricia Styran of Toronto; and too many step-children, grandchildren, friends and admirers to name.

Betty was a widely-respected journalist, broadcaster, television personality, TV producer, author and board member. She began her journalism career at the Ottawa Citizen as a teenager and became Public Affairs Editor at Toronto radio station CFRB in 1959, where she interviewed some 25,000 guests on The Betty Kennedy Show before retiring in 1986. From 1962 to 1995 she was a panelist on CBC's Front Page Challenge. She is a member of both the Canadian Broadcasting Hall of Fame and the Canadian News Hall of Fame. Her life-long interest in China led to her inclusion in the historic Canadian delegations to the PRC in 1972 (Mitchell Sharp), and 1973 (Pierre Elliott Trudeau).

Betty contributed many community service hours to the Metro Toronto Hospital Planning Council, the Advisory Committee for the Ontario Education Communications Authority, the Advisory Committee on Financial Institutions for the Minister of State for Finance, the Advisory Committee for the University of Western Ontario (School of Journalism), National Brotherhood Week, the Council of Christians and Jews, and served five years on the Governing Council of the University of Toronto. She was the first non-medical member of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons Complaints Committee. Her corporate directorships included Simpsons Limited, Bank of Montreal, Akzona, and Northern Telecom.

In 1982, Betty became an Officer of the Order of Canada and in June, 2000, she was appointed to the Canadian Senate.

She wrote two books: Gerhard: A Love Story (1976); and Hurricane Hazel (1979). She received honorary degrees from York University (Doctor of Laws, 1982), and the University of Western Ontario (LL.D., 1987). In 1998, she was made a Serving Sister in the Venerable Order of Saint John. Both she and her husband, G. Allan Burton, were among the Milton Walk of Fame's initial inductees in 2007.

Betty was a voracious reader, an active supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada, and a passionate defender of Canadian unity. Numerous charities benefited from her financial support and talents as a public speaker. She loved the outdoors, enjoyed swimming, gardening, flowers, dogs, bird-watching, golf, fishing (Ristigouche Salmon Club), and fondly recalled childhood years roaming Meech Lake and the Gatineau Hills.

She excelled as wife, mother and friend, invariably remembering birthdays and other occasions with beautiful cards and generous presents. Her warmth, intelligence and kindness made her an empathic interviewer, sympathetic listener, welcoming hostess and splendid life companion. She treasured her close friendships with Pierre Berton, June Callwood, A.Y. Jackson, A.J. Casson, Dorothy Davey, Gordon Sinclair and Jenny Wildridge, and brought joy to countless others in a life of extraordinary personal and professional accomplishment.

Loving and beloved, considerate, punctual, prepared, Betty remained always an early riser, eager to see what each new day would bring. In her own words,

"When I was a very young girl, I would waken to the early morning light, quietly slip out of the house, get on my bike and ride out alongside the Rideau Canal, past Dow's Lake and all along the way to Mooney's Bay. No words can capture the spirit of those rides: pure joy, the full awareness of the beauty of the day, and always the feeling of anticipation that something wonderful was going to happen."

The funeral service will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 27th in THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF ST. JAMES, 65 Church Street, Toronto. Family reception to follow. Condolences, photographs and memories may be forwarded through www.humphreymilesnewbigging.com


Funeral Home
Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles - Newbigging Chapel Limited
1403 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, ON M4G 3A8
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Published in the Toronto Star from Mar. 25 to Apr. 22, 2017
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