Eleanor Thompson Wortz
Eleanor Thompson Wortz
June 5, 1921 - August 18, 2013
Resident of Los Altos
Eleanor Thompson Wortz died peacefully at her home in Los Altos at age 92 on August 18th. She will be dearly missed by her loving sons, Marc Steven Wortz of Santa Cruz and William Howard Wortz of Los Gatos, and their wives, Cathy and Fujiko, as well as brother Julian Thompson of Potomac Falls, VA, sister Jean Thompson Barrick of Los Gatos, and many nieces, nephews, and friends. Her husband, James Howard Wortz, predeceased her.
Eleanor grew up in North Carolina, graduated from Spencer High School and Catawba College in 1942, where she received a BS in Business Administration. She was active there as Chief Cheerleader, member of Writers' Club, editor of the college annual, and listed in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities in 1942. She was granted the one slot for a woman to participate in the first wartime Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) through Catawba College where she earned her private pilot's license.
After graduation, she worked for the Civil Aeronautics Administration in Washington, DC until selected to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). The WASP ferried planes across the country from factories to bases where they were needed, often with little rest between trips. They acted as test pilots, flew weather missions, towed targets for male pilots to practice firing live ammunition, and even chauffeured generals. In 2010 the brave WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. This part of her life is covered in her memoir, Fly Gals of World War II, Women Airforce Service Pilots, published in 2011.
After the WASP program ended in 1944, she moved to California and worked as Asst. to the Registrar at Stanford University until offered a job teaching ground courses in Portuguese to Air Force cadets in Brazil. There she met and married James Howard Wortz in Brazil, in 1946. They moved to Los Altos and built a home where they lived happily together until his death in 1990. She organized and was the first president of the Woodland Vista Swim and Racquet Club in Los Altos. She taught Business courses at The College of San Mateo and Canada College from 1964-85 and earned her master's degree.
She was a longtime member of Los Altos United Methodist Church, and plans are being made for a celebration of her life there on November 9th at 1pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: SPCA of Los Altos or: Pathways Home Health, 585 N. Mary Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085, 408-730-1200, or the WASP museum: National WASP WWII Museum, PO Box 456, Sweetwater, TX 79556, or: TWU Foundation, WASP Endowment, PO Box 425528, 304 Administration Dr., Denton, TX 76204.

Published by San Jose Mercury News on Sep. 15, 2013.
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8 Entries
Dear Marc and Bill,
As my backdoor neighbor for all my childhood I send you warm thought for this time in your lives. Such a gift to get to know our parents and painful wonder to let them go.
Much Love,
SueLynn (Suzi Marion)
SueLynn Estby (marion)
November 8, 2013
I had Mrs. Wortz as a math teacher at Canada College in the late 70's. She was a wonderful instructor with a delightful sense of humor and gift for presenting information in a way that made it clear and enjoyable. Her World War II background impressed me tremendously. As one who was raised in a household where an advanced education would not be wasted on a girl, Mrs. Wortz was a shining example of what was possible. I am an attorney due in part to her inspiration.
Evvi Bowen
November 8, 2013
Eleanor's role as an educator put her at the “head of the class” --------- leading students on their journey to successful careers. Congratulations to Eleanor on an honorable life well spent.
Lora Todesco
November 7, 2013
Eleanor's role as an educator put her at the “head of the class” --------- leading students on their journey to successful careers, not unlike Eleanor's leadership experiences as a WASP. Congratulations to Eleanor on an honorable life well spent.
Lora Todesco
November 7, 2013
What an amazing lady! I did not have the honor of meeting her, but thank her for her service to our great nation! God bless her and keep her in his loving arms! Our WWII vets are leaving us too soon. Everyone needs to hear their stories, without their brave and unselfish service to our United States of America we wouldn't enjoy the freedoms we have today!
Mary Ellen Bryant
November 6, 2013
This strong and courageous lady is my hero. Her military service with the WASP during WWII is a wonderful legacy.
The time I visited with her earlier the year was an honor for me and will be placed in my Santa Clara Country Historical & Genealogy Society's Journal "Connections" soon. She is with her fellow sister pilots now with a job well done. God Bless her family.
Trina Gentry
October 1, 2013
Our thoughts and prayers are with you for your loss. With sympathy from The Santa Clara Valley 99s.
September 23, 2013
An amazing woman - I had the opportunity of listening to her stories during visits at my aunt Lee Romashko's home (with Jean Nelson). One story I recall dealt with weather. She told how, after the appropriate number of "clear weather" reports they took off - only to run into heavy clouds at the landing zone. They circled as their gas ran low and suddenly an opening over the field. I feel it was God helping her - and now she can thank Him personally.
Don Marshall
September 15, 2013
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