Jean Whitney Wortham
April 28, 1932 – December 9, 2020
With heavy hearts, we report the passing of Jean Whitney Wortham on December 9th, 2020. Jean was born at home in Cayote, TX on April 28th, 1932, the daughter of Elsie and Homer Whitney. Growing up on the farm, Jean attended a one room schoolhouse until high school. At Valley Mills High School, she was Editor of her senior yearbook, captain of the Girls’ Basketball team, chosen all VMHS Girl, and Salutatorian of her graduating class. Jean graduated from Baylor University School of Nursing, Hillcrest Unit, and received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Education from Baylor University. Jean cared for victims of the deadly Waco Tornado of 1953 as a young nurse and worked as a scrub nurse for Dr. Michael DeBakey. Jean worked in various fields of health as a: Clinical nursing instructor, school nurse, camp nurse, and ended her career as a Disability Examiner for the Texas Rehabilitation Commission.
Jean was married to WWII Veteran Wendell Eugene Wortham on June 14, 1958 on the Baylor Campus. They had two sons: Stewart Vincent and Gary Kevin. She was a steady partner as they moved to Dallas, Houston, New Jersey, and Austin with her husband in the insurance business.
As a lifelong Baylor fan, Jean enjoyed using her sense of humor and biting wit to keep opposing fans on their toes. Jean was a devoted Methodist and always a member of the choir along with other positions in the church. She volunteered in many organizations as God was her “rock” and co-pilot.
Jean was very competitive, especially in Bridge, Rummikub, “42”, and tennis. Jean was a long-time member and officer of the Lost Creek Garden Club and the Lost Creek Tennis Club, where she exemplified love of life and fellowship. Jean was known for her pranks, her sense of humor, and her hearty and easy laugh.
Jean was preceded in death by her husband, Wendell Eugene Wortham, in May of 1981. Jean is survived by her two sons: Stewart and wife Carla, of Memphis, TN, Gary and wife Karen of Reno, NV, three granddaughters: Morgan and Cassidy and fiancé Jeff of Reno, NV, Whitney and son-in-law Davis Priester of Washington, DC and one grandson: Chase of Reno, NV, three brothers: Raymond Whitney and family of Valley Mills, TX, Jodie and Roseanna Whitney of Winter Haven, FL, and Wayne and Sandy Whitney of Austin, TX.
Mama Jean was a matriarchal figure in many lives, and she was a loyal friend and advisor to so many. Our Mama Jean loved her family and spent a great deal of time organizing family gatherings. She was the picture of resilience and knew the importance of laughter and community. We hope she is putting together a Tuesday Night Dinner Group in heaven.
A Celebration of Life service will be held post Covid-19 crisis. Mama Jean will be buried in Wortham Bend Cemetery in China Spring, TX.
Jean Whitney Wortham
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December 30, 2020
When the pandemic hit last spring and all the Garden Club meetings were cancelled, I asked Jean if she could use that wonderful wit of hers and write a regular funny column that I could
forward to the members. Jean hesitated and said, “Well, let me think about that.” The following week and I believe every week thereafter, she found the funniest postings or jokes, cartoons or videos on the internet and sent them to me for forwarding. I don’t know how she did it but in her own unique way she kept us all laughing even in the middle of a pandemic! I count myself lucky to have known her and I can’t imagine how much she will be missed.
- Gina Williams
December 23, 2020
I learned of Jean's death, of all places, in the sports section of the newspaper. As I'm sure you know, sports writer Kirk Bohls write a very nice tribute to Jean in the Dec 16 Austin American-Statesman. He said it better than I can, but I will try.
I was friends with Jean for over 25 years. We played tennis together, took trips together, had theater season tickets together. As has been said by everyone else, she had a sense of humor like no one else's. She added fun and life to whatever the event was. She will be greatly missed.....(Ms.) Mickey Michaels
December 16, 2020
To Ms. Jean's Family,
I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Jean in 1981 when we were in the TRC class for new Claims Examiners. My husband called me at work on 6/8/83 to tell me that we were adopting our son the next day! Well, I was SO excited, I couldn't even drive home and Ms. Jean drove me home--she was so sweet and kind of the Mother of our class. I resigned from TRC after we adopted our son and I lost touch with Ms. Jean, but I wanted you to know that I never forgot her. Our son has given us 3 grandsons and is an Officer with APD, so Ms. Jean had a hand in helping me become a mom!
Marcia Sobel-Fox, RN
December 16, 2020
With sympathy. love, & prayers, from Mary Lou, Bob, & Westlake United Methodist Church. So grateful for shared times of laughter with Jean. And grateful to have received some of her "jabs," so I knew I made it into her circle. She gave in so many ways, but I personally could never thank her enough for her many turns to hand-write the Care Notes for our church care ministry to those with joys & concerns. She connected us with those on our prayer list with her written notes, in such beautiful handwriting and form. People often let us know how much those messages meant to them, whether they knew Jean/our church or not. And she beat me at Rummikub, every time. So missed, so loved. I imagine God shushing her when she reunited with Gene, Dave & Nelda, Charlotte & more-so much laughter in Heaven!
December 14, 2020
My family and I are saddened by the loss of our beloved Mama Jean. Heaven shines brighter now with Jean as an Angel. Mama Jean was the most beautiful, caring, loving and funniest person that anyone could ever meet. She loved her Family and especially her 2 Sons, Stewart and Gary. Mama Jean and I were in the same Disability Examiner class together at TRC in September 1981. We became Life Long Friends and kept up with each other for all of these years. After Mama Jean retired from TRC in 1994 , she would send me a birthday card on my birthday. She always made sure to make some silly remark on the card just to ruffle my feathers. She sent me birthday cards every year since 1994 (never missing a year).... I have family members who do not send me birthday cards on a regular basis, but Mama Jean always made me feel Special. This year on 03-17-2020, I received my last birthday card from her. I will forever Love Mama Jean and will always have a special place for her in my heart. My family and I express our heartfelt condolences to Mama Jean's Family. We all loved her dearly and we will miss her. Rest in Peace and God Bless Mama Jean.
December 14, 2020
Jean was a beloved member of Westlake UMC and deeply committed to the choir. Her humor and generous spirit will be greatly missed! I and the church continue to hold you all in prayer. We are so very sorry for your loss. May God’s grace bring you strength, comfort, and deep peace.
December 13, 2020
Where do you begin in telling your hearts fondest memories of Jean, I will begin in 1974. I attended Cayote United Methodist Church and that is where I first met Jean. As you know once you have been introduced to Jean, you are always remembered by her.! Cayote school reunions, Whitney family reunions, Moorman family reunions, Easter Sunday and upon a plain old Sunday I would have the pleasure of visiting with her. Her laughter and her humor made these visits extra memorable. If you were in her inner circle you would get a Christmas letter that gave you a 365 day visual of her and her family.! My prayers for the family are to know she made her mark in this world with our savior Christ Jesus leading her. I will truly miss her visits.
December 11, 2020
Jean @ I were classmates in Nursing School and have enjoyed trips,visiting over these many years. she was a dear friend and will be greatly missed. She was always the life of the party.