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Betty Lou (Rose) Wortham


1936 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Betty Lou (Rose) Wortham Obituary
Betty Lou Rose Wortham, 78, passed away on Dec. 11, 2014, after an extended illness. She had been under the care of Sweetwater Healthcare Center, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital and Hendricks Hospice in Sweetwater. Her family will hold a private service this week, and a public memorial service and celebration of life will be announced in January 2015.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that friends support causes on which Betty actively worked and institutions that were important to her. Some of these include: County-City Library, National WASP WWII Museum, , Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital, Sweetwater Healthcare Center, Hendricks Hospice, First Presbyterian Church and First United Methodist Church.
Betty was born June 26, 1936 in Ranger, Texas, the daughter of W.H. Rose and Alice Hanson Rose. She is survived by Glenn Wortham, her husband of 55 years, her son Bill Wortham and wife Leah of San Angelo, her daughter Beth Wortham of Winters, son Greg Wortham of Sweetwater and daughter-in-law Ann Wortham (Mrs. Jim Wortham) of Sweetwater. Betty has three grandchildren: Curtis Wortham and Rebekah Wortham of San Angelo, and Jessika Wortham of Lubbock. Betty has five great-grandchildren.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Judy Rose Joiner, and her son Jim, who passed away in 2003.
Betty was an active member and leader at First Presbyterian Church in Sweetwater for more than 30 years. She served the church in multiple roles, such as elder, session member, treasurer, choir member, Bible study teacher, and many other volunteer roles. At the time of her death, Betty was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Sweetwater, where she had been an eager volunteer with the Clothes Closet program.
Betty was named Sweetwater's Outstanding Citizen in 1995 for a lifetime of volunteer services in Sweetwater, Nolan County, and at the state level. She was honored with a Senate Proclamation adopted by the Texas Senate in 1995 in recognition of her decades of community and statewide service. The Senate said that "Betty Wortham is an exemplary and distinguished lady whose concern for others is legendary, and she has played a major role in the Sweetwater community."
Betty was a 1953 graduate of San Angelo Central High School and attended San Angelo College, now Angelo State University. She had worked in the water department for the City of San Angelo before moving with her family to Sweetwater in 1961. Her first job in Sweetwater was in the same building where her husband and son now operate an energy consulting firm, the historic Ragland Building downtown.
Betty was a lifelong leader, worker and activist in the Democratic Party. She served as Nolan County campaign coordinator for Ann Richards from 1982 through 1994, Nolan County campaign coordinator for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, Nolan County Democratic Party Chair, and as a precinct chair and election official for decades. Betty was inspired by and met many Democratic officials including Governor Ann Richards, Hillary Clinton, Lady Bird Johnson, Barbara Jordan, President Jimmy Carter, and Congressman Charles Stenholm.
Among other unique life experiences, Betty was a licensed pilot, climbed Texas' highest mountain at Guadalupe Peak, and had the opportunity to spend the night at the Texas Governor's Mansion during the term of Governor Ann Richards in 1991.
Betty traveled extensively in more than 40 states in the USA – from walking on glaciers in Alaska to sunning at the Fountainebleau Hotel in Miami's South Beach and from competing in corporate sporting events on Maui to visiting the rocky coast of Maine. Internationally, Betty visited ancestral homelands in Scotland, England, and Ireland, and traveled in Asia in Hong Kong, Thailand, China, and Japan – experiencing the bullet train to Mount Fuji, the jungles of Chang Mai, visiting the Rose family castle near Inverness, and walking at Stonehenge and Windsor Castle.
Betty was an active leader in the Sweetwater Band Boosters, Nolan County United Way, Philip Nolan PTA, Sorosis Study Club, Woman's Forum, Sweetwater Business & Professional Women's Association, Book Review Club, and many other community organizations. In addition to teaming countless work projects with other dedicated volunteers, Betty served as president or chair of every organization that she was in. She served as statewide president of the Texas Jaycees women's auxiliary – Texas Jaycee-Ettes – in the 1960s.
Betty was an officer at the Texas Bank & Trust Co., an officer in regional women's professional business leadership organizations. She and her husband operated an insurance and financial advisory business for almost 25 years.
Betty had her shih tzu rescue dog, Lady Foo, trained as a certified therapy dog at First Presbyterian Church by Lisa Peterson and loyally took her dog to help minister to residents of Sweetwater Healthcare Center for many years until her own health prevented her from continuing.
Betty's husband Glenn was named as Sweetwater's Outstanding Male Citizen in 2001. He served as a City Commissioner for 20 years and has been an active leader in countless community and statewide projects. They were active together in church activities, school and community activities for more than 50 years, and operated a small business together for more than 25 years.
Betty's children have also shared her community activism and business ethics. Her oldest son, Bill learned a trade from his grandfather (Betty's father) and has continued their small business with a 70-year history, attended Angelo State University, and has been a respected member of the San Angelo business community and a skilled craftsman and artisan in the Concho Valley, southwest Texas ranch country, and beyond for more than 40 years. Her son Jim, who passed away in 2003, worked at Ludlum Measurements for many years, attended The University of Texas, and was a primary leader in the revitalization of Sweetwater's historic Municipal Auditorium. Betty's daughter Beth was the first in the family to graduate from college (Angelo State University), has been a teacher for more than 30 years (Winters High School and Sanderson High School), has been named as Winters High School's Teacher of the Year, and has had the Winters school yearbook dedicated in her honor. Betty's son Greg graduated from Rice University and The University of Texas, worked as an energy lawyer in Washington, DC, and an energy executive in New York City, served as Mayor of Sweetwater for seven years, carried her tradition by being named as Outstanding Male Citizen of Sweetwater in 2009, and was the Democratic candidate for Texas Senate in 2014.
Published in Sweetwater Reporter on Dec. 13, 2014
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