Kathryn E. Hoffman, 86, roller skating performer


Kathryn E. "Betty" Hoffman, a skater who performed with popular big bands in the 1930s and '40s, died of heart failure Thursday at Cromwell Hospice in Towson. A Bel Air resident for the past several years, she was 86.

Born in Philadelphia, Kathryn Cantwell was 16 when she and a partner formed a roller skating act known as the Top Hatters. They traveled across the U.S. and Canada, performing with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Eddy Duchin and Frank Sinatra.

"The bands set up a platform for the skaters," said her daughter Patricia Freiberger of Bel Air. "They called her 'the little Quaker' because she started on the road so young."

The skating partnership ended when her partner was drafted during World War II. She took a job at Bendix Aviation in Philadelphia, where she met and married James W. Hoffman.

A funeral Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church, 654 Hatboro Road, Richboro, Pa.

In addition to her husband of 63 years, a retired aerospace engineer, and her daughter, survivors include another daughter, Dianne Hoffman of Newark, Del.; a brother, Michael Cantwell of Ambler, Pa.; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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