Conrad Edwina (Connie) Wortham was born on March 23, 1936, in Louisville, Kentucky, to Edwin Harold and Rosetta Elizabeth “Susie” Peters. She passed away peacefully in her home on December 11, 2015, at the age of 79. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, Jim Ed Peters, and sister, Judith Ann. Her husband, A. William “Bill” Wortham, preceded her in death in 1990; they would have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on December 18, 2015.
Survivors include her daughters, Conrad Fackler of Bryan, Texas, and Kimberly Selvage of Los Alamos, New Mexico, as well as Gary Wortham and Ann Wortham, from her husband’s previous marriage, and her brother, Paul Danner Peters. Grandchildren include Sunni Smalling, Shannon Japp, Eliza Fackler, Jimmy Fackler, Joan Fackler, Derek Selvage, Ruby Selvage, and Andrew Fackler. Great Grandchildren include Shae Smalling, Logan Smalling, Greysen Smalling, Wynter Japp, and River Japp.
At an early age, Connie developed a love of the arts that would last her lifetime. As a young woman in the 1950s, Connie’s art was first created as a freelance photographer at the iconic Chase Club, in St. Louis, Missouri. There, her photographs of all the prominent entertainers from big bands to Elvis garnered her both critical acclaim and the lasting regard of many of the celebrities she met and photographed.
Connie continued to love the arts wherever she lived, particularly in Bryan-College Station. The Worthams moved to the Brazos Valley in the 1960s, as Texas A&M’s Engineering program needed more faculty to keep pace with increasing enrollment. With Bill as the new Head of A&M’s Industrial Engineering Department, they grew substantially, even offering the first Industrial Engineering doctoral degree in Texas. During his tenure 100 Ph.D.’s graduated, including Texas A&M’s first female Ph.D. engineer. Connie was always so proud of “my Bill,” as she called him, glowing as she shared her joy and pride in his work and accomplishments.
As residents of the Brazos Valley, Connie and Bill joined forces in supporting the arts here with time, talents, and generous gifts. The Worthams were one of the first couples you’d see at a Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra Pops Concert, joyous BVSO volunteers. With Bill’s distinguishing moustache and Connie in a trademark hat, they warmly greeted visitors, inviting them to return. Connie also was a dedicated volunteer to the Friends Association of the Symphony Orchestra (FASO), particularly for many years in leading the Symphony Belles program for high school girls in their junior and senior years. To commemorate her dedication, FASO awards an annual “Connie Wortham Scholarship.”
Texas A&M’s MSC Opera and Performing Arts Society benefited tremendously from Connie’s ongoing devoted service. In 1990, OPAS welcomed the weeklong world premiere of The Bolshoi Ballet Grigorovich Company, and Connie was at the center of hospitality for the troupe, working with other organizers to create unforgettable, authentic Texas experiences for the touring artists. As OPAS celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1992–93, Connie was Chairwoman of the annual “White Nights” Gala fundraiser, an event that took a full year to plan. For that entire year, Connie opened her home multiple times as she gathered close to 20 committee members regularly for lunch meetings. Business ran smoothly so that her delightful meals could be experienced and fellowship could be shared.
Connie so very much loved identifying as born under the astrological sign of Aries, the ram. She knew the birth signs of all her friends and invited every one of her Aries friends, and their loved ones, to her famous “Aries parties” held at various locations. One of Connie’s most distinguishing features, in addition to her resplendent smile, was her beautiful collection of ladies’ hats, to match her classic fashions.
Her community volunteering extended beyond these two organizations, particularly as she was a faithful advocate for St. Thomas Episcopal Church and the St. Thomas Early Learning Center, as well as St. Michael’s Academy. At Allen Academy, she was known as the “Cake Lady” when helping them fundraise. When the Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley was founded in 1995, she was a passionate advocate, as it was also a favorite place to take her grandchildren to enjoy art as part of their lives.
Of all that Connie shared, her greatest joy was expressed in her dedication to her family. As a devoted wife and tremendously loving mother, she showered the people she loved with love, every day of her life. This includes two precious pups, both named “Little Love,” and you’ll find her latest one tagged as a family member on Facebook, the same as her other children. To know Connie Wortham was to know love—of the arts, of family, and of extended friends as family.
A memorial service is set for Tuesday, December 22, at 10:00 a.m., at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 906 George Bush Drive, College Station, Texas. Those who wish to attend are encouraged to wear the color purple, and a hat if they wish, to join the family in the spirit of a celebration of her life as an enthusiastic, giving soul who loved volunteering.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Texas A&M’s MSC OPAS, the St. Thomas Early Learning Center, the Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley, or to the charity of the donor’s choice.
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