Dorothy Elizabeth Cotton, best known as Bette, was born and raised in Dalhousie, New Brunswick. She began her long trek west when she left home to attend what is now known as Concordia University, in Montreal.
Bette studied business at Concordia and there she met her future husband, Frederick Rowan Cotton. The couple married in Saint John and Fred began his career as an executive for Sears Canada with the very capable Bette by his side.
Bette and Fred moved westward with stops in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and finally, Vancouver as Fred climbed the corporate ladder. Bette’s intelligence, determination, refinement and wit made her the perfect hostess and executive spouse; she was a huge source of support for her husband’s career. Bette was also an extraordinary gardener and left beautiful gardens behind her at each of the couple’s homes as they moved across the country. In Vancouver, she joined the UBC Friends of the Gardens and was an active member for 25 years.
While Bette had exacting standards for the many tasks at which she excelled, she was also the soul of generosity when it came to putting others at ease and reviewing their work. If the result of a particular volunteer assignment was not quite as hoped for, Bette’s immediate and heartfelt response was: “Don’t worry, it will never be seen from a galloping horse!” Bette’s infectious laugh would follow and all would be well.
Bette’s relationship with St. Paul’s came about after she was diagnosed with scleroderma, a rare disease that involves the hardening and tightening of the skin and of the body’s connective tissues. Bette came to rely on her doctors to help manage the symptoms of her disease and was impressed with the high calibre of care received.
Fred and Bette did not have children so, following Fred’s death, Bette arranged her will to benefit friends, relatives, and several charities including St. Paul’s. She requested her gift be used to support scleroderma research and, indeed, Bette’s gift is currently supporting two clinical investigation research projects through the Interstitial Lung Disease Clinic at St. Paul’s. Bette’s generous gift to St. Paul’s will help with the diagnosis and treatment of patients not just in BC but across the country and even internationally.
At St. Paul’s, we are truly honoured to be part of the legacy of this very special “East Coast girl”!