Whitman alum and former Congressman George Wortley passes


Whitman alum and former Congressman George C. Wortley, 87, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., died January 21. Syracuse.com published a remembrance of him here. His obituary follows:

Wortley was bom in Syracuse December 8, 1926, and grew up in Tully, NY. He began work in his father’s drug store selling penny candy and sweeping floors. After graduating from Tully High School, he enlisted with the Merchant Marine on his 17th birthday, attended Kings Point and served in the North Atlantic, Pacific and Philippine theaters of operation during World War II. He was in the Gulf of Leyte as part of the Japan invasion staging force when the war ended. He graduated from the School of Management (now the Martin J. Whitman School of Management) at Syracuse University with a degree in economics in 1948.

For 43 years, Wortley was owner and publisher of seven weekly newspapers in Onondaga and Madison counties in Central New York, where he led the industry in computerization and offset printing. He was president of the New York Press Association (1966), the American Newspaper Representatives (1966-1968) and the National Editorial Foundation (1968-1972) and an active member of the Inter-American Press Association.

During his newspaper years, he also wrote regularly to share his experiences in Washington and throughout the world. After leaving Congress, Wortley was lecturer on government operations at Claremont-McKenna (CA), the USDA Graduate School and University of California (Berkeley). He was chairman of the successful drives for a new Onondaga County Charter and Lake Ontario water supply. He was also a presidential appointee to the National Commission of Historical Publications and Records. While living in Florida, he was active in the Navy League’s Fort Lauderdale chapter, the Freedoms Foundation of Broward and led fundraising efforts for the Lone Sailor Project in Fort Lauderdale.

Before being elected to Congress, he was president of the Crouse-Irving Memorial Foundation, Hiawatha Council of Boy Scouts of America, American Heart Association Upstate Chapter and on the boards of Cazenovia College, Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, CNY National Kidney Foundation, Salvation Army, Red Cross Onondaga County Chapter, Onondaga Historical Association, American Lung Association, Board of Occupational Education Services (BOCES) and Small Business Administration Advisory boards as well as the Republican Citizens Committee.

Wortley was elected to Congress in 1980 and served from January 1981 to to January 1989. While serving on the House Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee, Wortley was perhaps best known for devising the “reverse mortgage” annuity and was also the moving force in changing anti-money laundering laws to fight drug trafficking. He also served on the House Ethics and Select Aging committees. Wortley was a strong supporter of democratic forces in Central America and, during the turbulent 1980s, was evicted from Nicaragua by the Sandinista government.

After leaving Congress, he was an election observer in Central America and was also on the Advisory Board of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs’ National Security Studies Program.

He was a principal in Dierman, Wortley & Zola, consultants on public policy and financial strategies, and a senior policy advisor in The Carmen Group and Financial Institutional Services Corp.

The family will receive friends Sunday, February 2 from 3-5 pm at Pumphrey Funeral Home, 7557 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Md. A funeral mass will be held at noon, Monday, February 3 at the Church of the Little Flower, 5607 Massachusetts Avenue, Bethesda. He will be buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., beside his wife, Barbara, a 1948 graduate of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and an internationally known expert on papermaking technology, who died in 2007. They had been married 57 years. His second wife, Anita Hansen, survives him.

Also surviving are his children Dr. George Wortley and his wife Susan (Big Island, Va.), Ann Lavin and her husband Frank (Hong Kong and Singapore), and Elizabeth Ring (Bethesda, Md.); nine grandchildren, six great grandchildren and his brother and sister-in-law, Edward and Karen Wortley of Tully, NY, as well as numerous nephews and nieces.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Fayetteville Senior Center (584 E. Genesee St., Fayetteville, NY 13066.