George C. Wortley, 87, a Member of Congress from 1981 to 1989 and former publisher of 7 weekly newspapers in Central New York, died January 21. In recent years he lived in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
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 Select Aging and Ethics 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 American countries and was also on the
Advisory Board of Maxwell School's National Security Studies Program.
For 43 years Mr. Wortley was owner and publisher of seven weekly newspapers in
Onondaga and Madison counties around Syracuse, 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, Mr. Wortley was lecturer on
government operations at Claremont-McKenna (CA), the USDA Graduate School and
University of California (Berkeley).
He was a principal in Dierman, Wortley & Zola, consultants on public policy and
financial strategies, had been senior policy advisor in The Carmen Group and Financial
Institutional Services Corp.
Mr. Wortley was a daily worshipper in Fayetteville, Washington, Fort Lauderdale or the nearest Catholic church wherever he was. 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.
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. During his Florida years he was active in the Navy League's Fort Lauderdale chapter, the Freedoms Foundation of Broward and lead fundraising efforts for the Lone Sailor Project in Fort Lauderdale.
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 ñoors. After graduating
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 Japanese invasion staging force when the war ended. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in economics.
The family will receive friends Sunday, February 2 from 3-5 pm at Pumphrey Funeral Home, 7557 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda. 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, DC. beside his wife, Barbara, an internationally known expert on papermaking technology, who died in 2007. They had been married 57 years. His second wife, Anita Hansen, survives him.
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). Also surviving are nine grandchildren, Erin Valliere, Michael and Andrew Wortley, Abigail, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Lavín, Colleen, Katie and Jack Ring, six great grandchildren and his brother and sister-in-law, Edward and Karen Wortley of Tully 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).
Read George Wortley's Obituary and Guestbook on pumphreyfuneralhome.com.