Dr. W. R. “Pat” Wortman

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Dr. W. R. Wortman, Jr., known all his life as “Pat” by virtue of having been born on St. Patrick’s Day and welcomed into the world by the attending physician’s comment, “Well, here’s another little Pat,” died March 14, 2018 at the age of 91.

Visitation: 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 16th, at Lake Shore Funeral Home.

Graveside Service: 11:00 a.m. Saturday, March 17th, at Oakwood Cemetery in Waco with The Rev. Aaron Zimmerman, Rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, officiating.

Memorial Service: 2:00 p.m. Saturday, March 17, 2018 at Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco with The Rev. Aaron Zimmerman officiating.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Hazel (Lee) Wortman; his brother, Robert L. Wortman; and his beloved wife, Liby Covington Wortman, whom he married in 1949. Pat and Liby enjoyed sixty-two years of truly happy wedded life.

Pat was a product of the public school system of Beaumont, Texas and always claimed that Ogden School was the finest elementary school in the land. It was from Odgen School, and from a mother who constantly read to him, that he acquired his lifelong love of books and learning. This love of books and learning would eventually lead him to become a Professor of English at Baylor University where, like the Clerk in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, “gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.”

A member of the Greatest Generation, Pat volunteered for the Army in 1943 and served in the South Pacific and the Philippine Islands during WWII. When he returned to Texas after his service, he enrolled in Baylor University where he met and married Liby Covington, which he always said was the best decision he ever made. With Liby’s help, Pat earned a Bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, a Master’s degree from Lamar University, and a PhD. from the University of Texas.

Pat and Liby are the parents of two daughters, E’Lynne Elliott and Patti Mitchell. All four family members became educators, a fact which pleased them all. Pat retired as Professor Emeritus of English after thirty years of service to Baylor University. He was a member of a number of professional organizations and frequently presented papers at professional meetings. In 1972, the Baylor student body elected Dr. Wortman as Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year. That was the last year that the selection was left entirely to the choice of the student body, which made the honor even more meaningful. One of Pat’s unique contributions to Baylor is that he originated the idea that Baylor should have a ceremonial mace for use in graduations and other formal occasions. He assisted in selecting the artifacts used and created the design for the official mace that is still in use today. Pat was honored to be named Bearer of the Mace for Baylor’s Fall 1997 commencement exercises. Liby retired from Midway Independent School District where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 1991. E’Lynne is a retired speech pathologist, working most recently for Highland Park ISD in Dallas, and Patti retired from Midland ISD as a school librarian.

Pat enjoyed a wide variety of avocational interests. In his younger days, he enjoyed riding his Harley Davidson 80 Flathead motorcycle. He was a charter member of the Beaumont Symphony Orchestra, and a member of several Civic Chorus groups and church choirs, where he added his beautiful bass voice to some of the world’s great choral music. He enjoyed target shooting, building model railroad layouts, using tools (especially woodworking tools), photography, amateur acting (he played the part of Dr. A. J. Armstrong in the 1982 production of The Towers of the Brazos, Orlin Corey’s play about Baylor’s history) and book collecting. He was particularly proud of his first editions of some of the works of C. S. Lewis. Pat and his family were always enthusiastic campers and travelers. He and Liby especially loved cruising. Many of Pat’s interests included service to others. He was a Volunteer Fireman in Moody, Texas, the Red Cross Disaster Chairman in Beaumont, a volunteer with the Victim Service Unit of the Waco Police Department, and a volunteer (after having undergone quadruple bypass surgery himself) with the Hillcrest Heart to Heart program. His favorite later-in-life volunteer job was driving the Providence Hospital golf cart, ferrying patients from the parking lots to their destinations on the Providence campus.

Pat considered himself exceptionally blessed by a kind and merciful Heavenly Father. His prayer for Liby, during her lifetime, for his daughter E’Lynne and her husband Alan, his daughter Patti and her husband Greg, for his grandchildren Angela and Ryan Gough, Katy and Darrell Brunson, Mary and John Skinner, William and Melanie Elliott and Scott Simpson, for his great-grandchildren Corley and Wesley Elliott, Ethan Gough and Emily Skinner, for his dear sister Nancy Beth Davenport and her late husband Ken, and for other family and friends was this:

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Memorials may be made to Pat and Liby Wortman Memorial Fund, Midway Education Foundation, 13885 Woodway Drive, Woodway, TX 76712.


Place of Service: Seventh & James Baptist Church , 602 James Ave.; Waco, TX 76706

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Condolence Messages

  1. Wayne and Beverly Woodward

    We’re so sorry to hear about this news. HYour dad obviously lived a full Christian life! E’Lynne, please know that you, Alan, and your entire family are in our thoughts and prayers. You had very special, godly parents!
    Wayne and Beverly

  2. “Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements….To love is to be vulnerable.” C.S. Lewis

    God bless you dear dear Friend and thank you.


  3. All our best, E’ Lynne and Patti, from Winfred Emmons III and family, and on behalf also of Winfred Emmons, Jr. mentor, and friend to Pat at Lamar, and his wife Ethel May, both deceased.

  4. As a sophomore English Literature student at Baylor University in 1968, I had the privilege of having Dr. Wortman as my professor. After a few weeks of struggling in his class, he recognized that I needed more direction in my life. He suggested and even encouraged me to go through the Baylor Testing Center to assist me in determing a direction in life for my future vocation. As a result of the testing, it was determined that I would have a lot in common with others who managed non-profit organizations. The rest of the story is history now, but not before serving as executive director of two chambers of commerce, one builders’ association, and finally one non-profit housing organization, NeighborWorks Waco, a non- profit I still love managing today. Dr. Wortman was truly in instrument of God working in my life. I will always be tremendously indebted to him. Rest In Peace my friend!

  5. Jan (Weldon) Roberts

    I was privileged to have been taught by both Dr. and Mrs. Wortman! They were both such wonderful people! I remember when I realized that the “Dr. Wortman” on my schedule for my very first college semester was the husband of dear, sweet Mrs. Wortman from Midway, I felt rather apprehensive. My thought was, “If opposites truly attract, he must be a terror because she is so gracious!” I was very happy to learn how wrong that adage could be, and his was one of my most interesting classes at Baylor. I count the Wortmans as precious blessings in my life, and I will always be thankful God allowed me to know them. I know this is a bittersweet time for the family–you will be in my prayers!

  6. Barbaree Ash Duke

    Dr. Wortman was my angel at Baylor University. He made it possible for me to student teach, when it looked impossible. He taught me in a one-on-one class so that I could earn extra credits, and by extension go ahead and student teach. He even gave me extra books to help defray the costs, money that he knew I didn’t have. Wishing you a taste of the beautiful blessing that he was in my life!

  7. Dr. Wortman was my teacher, my friend and a Pat & Liby both were cherished club sponsors. I put off taking his English class until my last semester at Baylor. It was wonderful. My favorite memory is his grace to me. At Homecoming that year a guy I had dated while E’Lynne and I were roommates was in town. We reconnected and he decided to stay in town through the following Monday. I cut Dr. Wortman’s class to spend time with him. I confessed it to Dr. Wortman later – he was the kind of man you just had to be truthful with. He smiled and said, “Well, I hope he was worth it.” He was. We’ve been married 40 years!

  8. Doug Myers, Class of 1980, Chicago, IL

    Dr. Wortman was truly one of the best professors I had while at Baylor.

  9. Lisa Landrum Henson, Class of 1986

    I’m so sorry to hear of Dr. Wortman’s passing. His C.S. Lewis class was one of the highlights of my Baylor education, and I credit my love of Lewis’ works to that class. I still have my term paper with Dr. Wortman’s comments. My condolences and prayers to the family.

  10. Kendra Sanderson (Brewer)

    Kendra Sanderson (Brewer), class of 96
    Dr. Wortman remains one of the most profoundly impactful people in my life. He is the reason I am an English professor and why I daily ask how I am leading my students, educating and being educated? I will forever remember the pride I felt when he and his beloved wife had our class over for dinner. He allowed us to humanize academia, and I cherish the memory. He spent such an intentional amount of time with each of us, and I shall never, ever forget him.

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