· Betty Ross Thomson
On On Tuesday, August 6, Betty Ross-Thomson died due to the vagaries of age. Born Della Elisabeth Ross on October 29, 1924, she was the eldest child of Dr. & Mrs.T.E. Ross, Jr. and first grandchild of Dr. & Mrs. T.E. Ross, Sr.
Following graduation from Hattiesburg High School in 1941, Betty attended Stephens College in Columbia, MO. After one year at Stephens, she returned home and completed her BS in home economics in 1945 at Mississippi Southern College (USM). Pursuing a master's in home economics, she enrolled at the University of Tennessee in the autumn of 1945. While at UT she was active in the Kappa Chapter of Phi Mu Fraternity (Sorority)
Returning to Hattiesburg, Mrs. Thomson taught nutrition and dietetics to student nurses at Methodist Hospital School of Nursing.
Within a few years, she worked with two friends at a small private kindergarten. Among the enrollees, there were a few handicapped children.. Mrs. Thomson almost immediately found her life's calling. With the help and encouragement of several parents, Playhaven School for the trainable handicapped child was founded. Betty Ross-Thomson became a noted pioneer and expert in Education of mentally, physically, and multiply afflicted children.
During the Playhaven years, she completed two masters degrees from USM: one in educational psychology, the other in mental retardation. She met and worked with many talented individuals who shared her vision, most notably Abbie Rogers whom she mentored and who would carry on the work she started after Mrs. Thomson left to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin.
Upon completion of her Ph.D., Betty Ross-Thomson held several positions with the University and the Wisconsin State Department of Education. When she retired in 1994, she was Superintendent of Education for the Physically Handicapped for the state of Wisconsin. A woman ahead of her time, her career was paramount in her life.
In 1966, Betty married John R. Thomson, who preceded her in death. Following more than four decades in Wisconsin, she returned to Hattiesburg, Over the years, Mrs. Thomson was active at First Baptist Church (Venture) and numerous charitable organizations, including several professional groups. She was a Life Member of Hattiesburg Historical Society.
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Thomson was preceded in death by her parents, Dr. and Mrs. T.E. Ross, Jr.; her younger brother and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. T.E. Ross, III; her step-son, Michael S. Thomson; her brother-in-law, 1st Lieutenant James E. Daniels, Sr.; and her nephew, James E. Daniels, Jr.
Mrs. Thomson is survived by her only child, Kym Ross Waldrop; her sister, Mary Ross Daniels; her step-daughter-in-law, Janet Thomson; her step-grandson, Mark Thomson; and her nieces, Marianne Powers, Carolyn Bedenbaugh, and Patricia Ross.
Special love and appreciation are given to Kathy Bush and Loretta Kitchens who have showered Mrs. Thomson with uncommon love and devotion. During the more than three years that she has been under the auspices of Forrest General Hospice, she has had wonderful care from everyone who called on her, particularly Vanessa Hartfield, R.N. and Liz Boler. They all made it possible for her to remain in the comfort of her home.
Services for Mrs. Thomson will be held at Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home at 2:00 PM Monday. Visitation will begin at 1:00 PM Monday.
Burial will be in the family plot at Highland Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to Forrest General Healthcare Foundation, PO Box 19010, Hattiesburg, MS 39404.
"Because she could not stop for death,
Death kindly stopped for her"