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Former County Commissioner Jack Worthman dies

Business background benefited public, friends say

Friday, November 15, 2013 - 4:40 pm

Jack Worthman, who served as an Allen County Commissioner for three terms, has died at age 86.

Worthman, a graduate of South Side High School, Purdue University and the Chicago School of fine arts and World War II Army Air Force veteran, died Thursday at Golden Years Homestead.

First elected commissioner in 1982, he was defeated in his bid for a fourth term in the 1994 GOP primary by Linda Bloom, who remains in office today. Bloom received 11,237 votes to Worthman's 8,911.

Following his defeat, Worthman said he had no plans to seek public office again. In 1995, he was appointed executive director of the Maumee River Basin Commission, which works to improve water quality in a 1,300-square-mile area of northeast Indiana.

The appointment built on the interest in water Worthman had demonstrated as commissioner, including his support for widening the Maumee River to reduce flooding.

“(Worthman) was a great guy, and the community owes a lot to him,” said current Commissioner Nelson Peters, who served on County Council during Worthman's terms in office and was county human resources director under Worthman.

Allen County Republican Chairman Steve Shine noted that, as the son of noted Fort Wayne developer and homebuilder John Worthman, Jack Worthman brought expertise in construction and development to the commissioners' office – knowledge that served taxpayers well during construction of the Juvenile Justice Center, expansion of the jail and other projects. Jack Worthman later served as president of Worthman Homes.

Worthman's background also produced a new level of expertise and professionalism in the county's Building Department, Peters said.

The three-member Board of Commissioners comprises county government's legislative and executive branches.

Worthman was a member of the Plymouth Congregational Church. During his 12 years as commissioner, he was also instrumental in the development of Headwaters Park, Memorial Stadium and renovations to the Allen County Courthouse.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Bettina Worthman of New Haven; sons, Jeffery R. Worthman of St. Croix and Martin L. (Donna) Worthman of New Haven; daughters, Lisa L. Chiddister of Fort Wayne, Alice L. (Fritz) Martin of Columbia City, and Faith E. (Craig) Wise of Grabill; a sister, Joan (Ron) Flohr of Fort Wayne; 11 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren

Memorial services will be at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Plymouth Congregational Church, 501 W. Berry St., with calling at the church from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.