Gervase James, ‘Jerry’, Wortman passed away on Saturday, March 11, in the loving care of his family, after a long and courageous battle with COPD. He was 82 years-old.
Born and raised in Saint Marys, Pennsylvania, on February 4, 1941, Jerry was the son of Gervase and Ella Hribar Wortman, and the grandson of Bernard and Mary Wortman and Anton and Mary Hribar. For over 57 years, he was married to the love of his life, Elizabeth Ann Wortman, daughter of Ulmar and Frances Fritz, also of Saint Marys. Jerry and Ann moved to Warren in 1967, where they raised their family.
He and Ann are the loving parents of Francine (Jude) Bilafer, of Palmer, Alaska; David (Jennifer Shea) Wortman, of Warren, Pennsylvania; Christian (Susan Hampson) Wortman, of Falls Church, Virginia; Joseph (Kim Drizis) Wortman, of Clearwater, Florida; and Elizabeth ‘Libbey’ (Jayce) Bell, of State College, Pennsylvania. Jerry was the proud and loving grandfather of 19 grandchildren – Hannah (Taylor) (Bilafer) Shidler, Alison (Patrick) (Bilafer) Klump, Daniel (Kelsea) Bilafer, Steven Bilafer, Thomas Bilafer, Joseph Bilafer, John Wortman, Luke Wortman, Megan Wortman, Grace Wortman, Isabel Wortman, Ella Wortman, Julia Wortman, Sophia Wortman, Hali (Kyle) (Drizis) Austin, Demetra Drizis, Sam Bell, Adam Bell, and Kate Bell. He was the great grandfather of 4 great grandchildren – A. J. Shidler, Vivian Shidler, Mary Klump, and Elijah Klump. He was the brother of Kathy (Bill) Smith and Suzie (Gerry) Riddle, both of Saint Marys. He carried lifelong pride in his special relationship with his sisters, and most especially in them. As with his sisters, he had an important relationship with his grandparents Bernard and Mary, and their children, his aunts and uncles. He treasured unique and important relationships with many nieces and nephews, and embraced the moments that life presented to extend to them his love and support.
Jerry graduated in 1959 from Central Catholic High School, in Saint Mary’s, and in 1969 from the Pennsylvania State University, where he earned a civil engineering degree. He was employed by A. E. O’Block Construction for over 25 years, and also worked as a licensed surveyor. While working for O’Block Construction, he contributed to the construction of many local roads and bridges, most especially in the area around the Kinzua Dam and Longhouse Drive. From this work, he developed a deep love for the Allegheny National Forest and its natural resources. He was an avid sportsman, craftsman, baker, hobbyist, carpenter, mechanic, boater, and brick layer. He was a talented and passionate hunter, fisher, basketball player, baseball player, card player, chess player, and so much more. Few things brought him more joy than teaching and sharing these many talents with his children and grandchildren.
Jerry was a member of Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Warren for over 50 years, and for many years served as a volunteer at the church and its elementary school. He was a long-time member of the Knights of Columbus, as well as the Sinnemahoning Sportsmen’s Club and Penn State Alumni Association.
Jerry moved through the world his way; often quietly; always sharing love, kindness, and beauty. He was a long-time advocate for people facing difficult circumstances with limited means. He carried a life-long commitment – anything worth doing was worth doing right. He thrilled at any effort done with precision and the eye of a true craftsman.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents Gervase and Ella Wortman, as well as by his father and mother-in-law, Ulmar and Frances Fritz, sister-in-law Frances (Fritz) Cunningham, and brothers-in-law John Cunningham, David Fritz, and Matt Bacon.
Viewing services will be held on Thursday, March 16, at the Donald E. Lewis Funeral Home, 304 East St. Warren, PA, from 2:00 to 4:00 and 6:00 to 8:00 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday, March 17, at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, 600 Pennsylvania Ave West, Warren, PA, at 10:00 AM, with the Rev. Richard Tomasone, pastor, officiating, with a luncheon to immediately follow. Jerry will be interned at Saint Mary’s Catholic Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to Saint Joseph Soup Kitchen; the Semper Fi and America’s Fund; PAWS Along the River; or a charity of choice. E-Mail condolences may be sent by visiting www.lewisfuneralhomeinc.com.
Many fond memories of Jerry. Not just a brother-in-law, but more like a big brother to me. Jerry shared his exceptional knowledge of hunting, shooting and the Allegheny National Forest with me, and the memories of time spent in the woods with him are legendary. His keen eyes, knowledge about deer, and marksmanship amazed me as a young hunter, and I still remember his hunting skills decades later. I won’t ever forget the excitement of my first buck season, falling asleep beside the embers of the fireplace the night before, the early wake-up the next morning, climbing the mountain to our hunting perches before the sun came up, and the thrill of a successful hunt. I learned so much from Jerry, and was amazed at how much he knew about so many things. I can also remember a ride around Kinzua Reservoir when the dam was still under construction, and the roads weren’t even roads yet. It was my first real off-road ride, and Jerry drove that International Harvester Scout, places that I never knew a vehicle could go … that’s when I learned to appreciate 4-wheel-drive. But more than anything, Jerry’s courageous fight against COPD across the decades was a true inspiration. He was the living definition of resilience, and defied the odds over-and-over-and over … tough as nails, maybe just stubborn. We were all blessed to have him in our presence, and now, our memories. Condolences to the entire Wortman family, and wishing you all the best while we mourn Jerry’s passing.
My deepest sympathy to Ann and family. The two of you raised a wonderful family. May Jerry rest in peace.
Our thoughts & prayers are with your family.
Please accept our sincere sympathy. May you all have the strength Jerry displayed today and the courage you will need in the days ahead. RIP Jerry and may the Lord bless your precious family through out their lives.
Our sincere condolences to the entire Wortman family. May you have the strength of our Lord in your day ahead. Prayers for all of you.
My deepest sympathy to Ann and the Wortman Family. May your memories bring you peace until you see him again.
David and family, May God Bless you at this time of sorrow. Vicki and my heartfelt thoughts go out to your entire family at this time. RIP Jerry
Our deepest Sympathy to and all of the Wortman Family. May our Lord give you the strength of your father until you rejoin him.
Very sorry for your loss, thoughts and prayers from the Berdine family.
We just learned of Jerry’s Passing. Our deepest Sympathy goes out to the entire Wortman Family, especially Ann. She was our Maid-Of- Honor at our wedding 64 years ago and still remains our friend despite having been separated by many miles as we moved around the country. Her loving care of Jerry in his later years is an inspiration to us all. God Bless You, Ann.
My heartfelt condolences to you, Ann, and to every one in the family.
May your memories bring you comfort, joy and peace.
May God bless his soul and welcome him into Paradise.
You will all be in my thoughts, and especially in my prayers.
My sincere condolences to Ann & all the family in the loss of husband, father, uncle, grandfather, great grandfather brother & cousin. He touched so many lives & will be sorely missed.
Love, prayers & healing hugs to all !