Remembering Cynthia Balfour, APR

Cynthia Balfour thanks Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed following his speech at the 1978 CPRS National Conference in Calgary. (photo from Barbecues, Booms & Blogs: 50 years of Public Relations in Calgary)

Cynthia Balfour was the first woman President of the Canadian Public Relations Society’s Calgary Chapter (1974-76) and the first woman to sit on the national executive of CPRS in 1981. Cynthia passed away on January 12 in her New Zealand homeland at the age of 92.

After stints in advertising in London and as a writer and editor in New Zealand, Cynthia moved to Calgary in 1967 and was hired as a copywriter by Pat McVean at her small ad agency. Two years later she was hired by J D Francis and Associates as Industrial Editor.

News of Cynthia’s passing brings back many memories- especially seeing Cynthia WRITING to the very end, recalls John Francis. She performed professionally at our company in parts of three different decades in two cities. She taught our staff, educated our clients, and demonstrated writing skills -always graciously, and with dispatch.

With the encouragement of John Francis, Cynthia became a member of CPRS in 1972. She earned her APR in 1973 and later became a volunteer accreditation examiner.

Following a 12-year partnership with Fraser Perry in their consulting firm Resources Communications, Cynthia joined Canadian Arctic Gas. When that project died, she became the first PR professional hired by Aquitaine Canada (later known as Canterra Energy) where she worked until her retirement in 1984.

Cynthia was held in the highest esteem by her professional colleagues in Calgary. Before returning to New Zealand, CPRS-Calgary hosted a tribute dinner for Cynthia and presented her with an oil painting of the Canadian Rockies which she proudly displayed in her home.

She remained active in her retirement. She was cast as a “hobbit” in the acclaimed feature movie Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Cynthia operated a bed and breakfast and was a founding member of the “One Ski in the Grave Club.” She had planned to ski until she was 90 but a broken hip forced her to hang up her skis at 83.

Cynthia never forgot her time and friends in Calgary. She contributed the chapter Women in Public Relations for Barbecues, Booms & Blogs: 50 years of Public Relations in Calgary and attended the launch of the book in 2008. Her last visit to Calgary in 2012 included a barbecue hosted by the book’s co-editor and Past President (1979-80) of CPRS-Calgary Jim Rennie.

The consummate professional until the end, Cynthia recorded a farewell video message to her many friends only a couple of days before she died:
Cynthia is missed by many members and former members of CPRS.