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Obituaries » Frances Wortman

Frances Wortman

May 17, 1932 - June 10, 2019


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Frances Wortman, 87, of San Rafael, California, died peacefully on Monday, June 10, at Villa Marin in San Rafael. She was born in Chicago and raised in Aurora, Illinois. She is survived by her two children, son Robert Wortman and daughter Sally Wortman (Brook Hinton); her brother, Thomas George; brother-in-law Richard Wortman; nieces and nephews, and her cherished companion, John Schmiedel. She was preceded in death by her husband of 40 years, Gordon Wortman, in 1997; her parents, Frank and Frieda George; sister Virginia Kastory and brother-in-law Frank Kastory.


Frances attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. She maintained a strong, life-long connection to the college, the treasured friendships she made there and always supported her alma mater. After graduating from Carleton in 1953 with a degree in psychology, she made her way to San Francisco and chose the Bay Area as her permanent home. She worked in personnel and recruiting at UCSF Medical School, a job she greatly enjoyed. She met her future husband, Gordon, in San Francisco, who, it turned out, was also from Aurora, Illinois, although they hadn’t known each other there.  They married in San Francisco in 1957 and returned to Aurora for six years, purchasing and renovating their first home and having their two children there. Frances soon grew tired of putting snow suits on little kids who then immediately wanted to come back inside during the long Illinois winters, and informed Gordon that she would be moving back to California and he was welcome to join her. The family moved to Berkeley, CA, in 1964 and then relocated to Fran’s beloved Marin County in 1971.


Frances worked tirelessly at home. She always found new, creative outlets for her children’s interests and supported their passions for reading, music, science and fine arts and crafts. She had a fiercely bright and curious mind, and incredibly skillful hands. Frances and Gordon did many of the renovations to their homes themselves. Frances created beautiful hand-sewn clothing and quilts, and lovingly planted magnificent gardens in each of her homes. She was an avid reader all of her life. She especially loved reading poetry and The New Yorker magazine.


She attended graduate school in the 70’s, earning a master’s degree in Health Administration, and returned to full-time work as Director of Patient Advocacy at a rehabilitation hospital, retiring in 1987. She moved to Villa Marin in 2004 and served as President of the Board of Directors in 2009 and 2010. She experienced a very joyful chapter in her life there, where she met her partner John Schmiedel, with whom she traveled to Hawaii, on a cruise through the Panama Canal and on many other trips throughout California.


The family requests in lieu of flowers to make donations to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, , Hospice by the Bay,, or Carleton College,