Betty Congour Caywood Bushman
Betty Congour Caywood Bushman passed away peacefully in her KC Condo overlooking the Country Club Plaza on Sept. 3rd, 2020, in the presence of her son Stephen. Betty was born in Chicago, Ill. to Irene Wolf Congour and Vernon Price Congour on March 10, 1931. Vernon Congour was a Ward Boss for Mayor Kelly which led to a rocky marriage with Irene, so Irene, Betty and Betty’s younger brother, Stanley, spent a lot of time with family in Kansas City, MO. In 1944 Irene moved to Kansas City with the children permanently.
Betty attended Westport High School and then K.C. Junior College for 1 year before transferring to Missouri University. She had attended Missouri University for 2 years when she met and married Frank Caywood in 1950. Frank had just been appointed Chairman of the PGA and served as such for the winter leg of the 1951 Tour with Betty serving as field secretary. After the Winter Tour, Frank left the PGA and they returned to Kansas City. In 1952, they moved to Salina, KS to take over the Caywood family farm. While in Salina, Betty completed her Bachelor’s degree in Education at Marymount. In 1953, Betty traveled back to Chicago to be with her father, Vernon, who was in a coma at a local hospital.
While in Chicago, Betty enrolled at Northwestern University and was able to complete a Master’s Degree in Speech therapy. She returned to Salina, KS after the death of her father. She and Frank, having been unable to have children, adopted Jeffrey Scott in September 1955. Shortly thereafter, Betty did become pregnant and in January of 1957 they welcomed Michelle Renee. In December 1957, Betty filed for divorce and she moved back to Kansas City with the children. Betty secured a modeling contract with Andre’s Modeling agency in Kansas City. Betty started modeling for various high-end stores in Kansas City which eventually led to a career in television.
Her first TV experience was with the Builders Showcase which gave her an impressive resume of 18 thirty minute weekly shows in 18 major cities. In 1960, Betty was hired as “weather girl” for WBKB in Chicago and she and the children moved there. She also hosted talk shows, to include “Great Ideas from Great Books” and “Woman on the Go” where Betty highlighted new upcoming “happenings” in Chicago.
In 1964, Charles “Charlie O” Finley the owner of the Kansas City A’s baseball team had made some guest appearances at WBKB and met Betty. Loving Betty’s “gift for gab”, Charlie offered Betty a job as the team’s color commentator, where she would provide female viewpoints. Knowing full well this was a gimmick that Charlie hoped would increase viewership since the team had not won a single game all season. Betty accepted and became the First Female Baseball Broadcaster in history. Her contract with the team lasted till Dec. 31st, 1964 and although she had grown to love the game of baseball Betty was not renewed for the 1965 season. Finley believed the “gimmick’ had served its purpose. Betty still made appearances on local and national TV shows as a representative of the KC A’s until December of 1964 and was even a guest on “What’s my Line”.
In November of 1964, while attending a friend’s anniversary party, Betty met the love of her life Jordan Fredrick Bushman. They married just 6 months later in June of 1965. Betty and Jordan welcomed Stephen Justin in September of 1966 and in 1967, they had Craig Alexander. Betty, Jordan and the children lived in St. Joseph, Missouri until 1975 when they moved to Kansas City, MO. Since 1975, Betty has served and chaired on the boards of multiple charities and organizations to include Vanderslice, FireSide, and KC Symphony Women.
Since 1996, Betty and Jordan lived a quiet life in their condo overlooking the Country Club Plaza, one of their favorite places in KC. Betty had still been hosting small get-togethers with close friends and family. Betty was pre-deceased in death by her daughter Michelle Renee, her brother, Stanley Richard Congour, and her beloved husband Jordan Fredrick.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Michelle Bushman New Theater guild Scholarship Fund, the Kansas City Arts Institute or the Kansas City Actors Theater.