Ruth Ann Wortman passed away peacefully in her home, surrounded by her family on July 14th, 2022 at the age of 80. Ruth Ann was born in Dupree, South Dakota on August 17th, 1941 to William and Gertrude Lutz. She spent her childhood on a farm outside Isabel, South Dakota with her sisters Dorlene and Carol and brother Bill. The siblings and their cousins shared many fun adventures together, often causing their mothers to be “provoked.” Ruth Ann didn’t always say a lot, but her dry sense of humor caused much laughter amongst the kids. She would say something in all seriousness, then the look on her face made you burst out laughing. She loved children and they loved her. She was a big fan of The New York Yankees and Mickey Mantle, listening to the games faithfully on the radio with her handy baseball tracking sheet.
Ruth Ann attended a one-room school near Firesteel, SD through 8th grade. She then attended Isabel High School, where she was the class valedictorian for the class of ‘59. This is also where she met the love of her life, Jim Wortman. Jim initiated their first date by inviting Ruth Ann to the movies with him and his friend in a brand new ‘57 Chevy, and she surprised him by saying yes! Ruth Ann attended Presentation College in Aberdeen, SD, becoming a registered nurse. She was selected as nurse of the year, as well as representative to the South Dakota snow queen contest.
On August 17, 1963, Jim and Ruth Ann were united in marriage at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Isabel, SD. It was a blessed and wonderful day, despite the bride being temporarily “kidnapped” by the groomsmen! She was a nurse for several years, before taking time off to raise their family. Jim joined the Air Force, and together they lived in Texas, Virginia, Florida, and Iowa, raising their four children: Sandy, Michael, Becky, and Amy. They made many friends through their Air Force travels. Ruth Ann earned a teaching certificate in 1975, and taught elementary school for many years. She was brilliant at math and was a most beloved teacher. She always saw the best in her students, and always fought for the underdog; even those who struggled saw success through her patient encouragement. When Jim retired from the Air Force, they settled permanently in the rural area of Cibolo, TX.
Ruth Ann was a devoted Catholic. She and Jim were very involved at their parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Selma, TX, where they were part of a small faith group, served as Eucharistic ministers, and formed close friendships. Ruth Ann taught at the parish school and helped with RCIA and the bereavement group. It was at OLPH that she became one of the original committee of five writers who, under Father Patrick Cronin, drafted the ACTS retreats, which are now held all over the world. She co-directed the first women’s ACTS retreat, held by OLPH, in 1987. She was also a member of the first ACTS core committee. She typed the very first ACTS Directors’ Manual by hand on her manual typewriter! In 1989, Monsignor John Flynn, pastor at St. Matthew Catholic Church in San Antonio, persuaded Ruth Ann to take a two-year leave of absence in order to lead the RCIA program and bring ACTS to his parish. She directed the first women’s ACTS retreat at St. Matthew in 1989. Later, she also worked with Father Conor McGrath at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in San Antonio, TX. Many hearts were moved and inspired by Ruth Ann’s one-woman portrayal of The Woman at the Well, which she composed. She was a spiritual companion to many people, friends and family alike, with her gentle, loving, faithful heart.
Ruth Ann’s greatest accomplishment was achieving her life-long dream of having a happy, loving, faith-filled family with Jim. She truly was the heart and soul of the family. Her faith, as well as her love for Jim and all of their children,was the glue that created a tight-knit family in the midst of moving every few years and led her own children to deeply love and cherish the Faith. She made changing homes, churches, schools and doctors, facilitating new friendships for her children, and adjusting to her own new friends and duties seem easy and effortless. Together, she and Jim created a family centered on Christ and united in love for each other - supporting the dreams, sharing the joys, and comforting the sorrows of their children. When their children married, the new family members were welcomed with open arms and hearts, immediately loved and accepted, as were the many grandchildren to follow! Jim and Ruth Ann could often be found on the road traveling across Texas to support their grandchildren at sports events, concerts, plays and musicals, and endless sacraments. One particular May, they were home only a handful of days! Ruth Ann and Jim hosted cousins’ camp every summer. Ruth Ann was always up for some fun - playing board games, teaching kids to play poker, taking kids to the Snake Farm. Certainly she and Jim must have collapsed when everyone left - but you would never know it while the grandkids were there!
When asked what it was about Ruth Ann that was so special, her entire family’s first word is LOVE. She was always sincerely interested in whatever they were interested in - simply because they were interested in it. She was up for anything (within reason) and always played along with enthusiasm. She was vibrant and had a joyful, child - like heart and smile. She prayed with sincerity, simplicity, and depth. She loved everyone so fully, so much! Never a harsh word came out of her mouth. She always noticed if someone was having a hard time and needed a hug. She had a kind and welcoming heart, a wonderful way of making people feel so special, and her hugs were truly the best. She gave more than one grandchild her very own guitar (in different decades) when she saw how they loved playing it. She was always so loving, gracious, and accepting. No matter the distance between her and a loved one, she always wanted to make sure they knew they were loved, and how proud she was of them. That’s how she made everyone feel, and she was always very witty while doing it!
The loss of our wonderful wife, sister, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother and friend cannot be overstated. Neither can the joy of having been loved and taught and encouraged by her, or the joyful hope of one day being reunited with her and our Heavenly Father. May we all someday hear the words we feel certain she has heard: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” We love you Ruth Ann.
Ruth Ann was preceded in death by her parents, William and Gertrude Lutz, sister Dorlene Lutz, brother Bill Lutz, and son-in-law Jeff Goodrich.
Her husband of 59 years, Jim Wortman
Sister Carol (Dick) Canterbury
Children: Sandy (Peter) Gazda, Michael (Lara) Wortman, Becky (Bill) Neeson, and Amy (Rob) Dailey.
Grandchildren: Lindsay Renkel, Emily Castet, Sarah Gazda, Jacob Neeson, Matthew Gazda, Katie Gazda, Julia Neeson, Andrew Gazda, Taylor Atkinson, Daniel Gazda, Nicholas Neeson, Ryan Dailey, Natalie Gazda, Aaron Dailey, Robert Neeson, Connor Dailey, Christine Gazda, Will Dailey, Mary Therese Gazda, Jonathan Gazda, and Luke Neeson.
Great Grandchildren: Anne-Marie Castet, Jeffrey Gazda, Thomas Gazda, Zelie Castet, Claire Atkinson, Charlie Atkinson, Georgia Gazda, Joseph Castet, Hallie Neeson, Isabella Gazda, Rosemary Atkinson, Peter Gazda
Beloved and devoted dog, Abby
The family would like to thank Dr. John Galan, Riverside Hospice, and Senior Caring services. Their professional, kind, and devoted care enabled Ruth Ann to live out her days comfortably at home with Jim. We will be forever grateful.
On Monday, July 25, 2022, the Rosary will be recited at 10:30AM with the Funeral Mass beginning at 11:00AM at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church of Selma, Texas. There will be a procession following the Funeral Mass to Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery for the Graveside Service.
To view the livestreaming of the Rosary and Funeral Mass, please click on the link below: