In Memoriam: Tom Wortham

October 8, 2021

UCLA Professor Emeritus Thomas R. Wortham, Ph.D., 77, of Thornville, Ohio formerly of Los Angeles, died October 8th, 2021, at Riverside Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He was born in Liberal, Kansas, to the late Tom and Ruth Wortham.

Tom received his B.A. in English and Religion at Marquette University and was awarded his Ph.D. in 19th Century American Literature and Studies from Indiana University. He served on the faculty of UCLA for nearly forty years and as Chair of the English Department for ten years.

Brilliant, warm, loving, wryly humorous, and extremely generous, Tom had a curiosity for life and liked to say that he stood for “Truth, Beauty, and Ballet.” Tom’s impact on the community was enormous: he was a passionate patron, board member, and cheerleader for BalletMet Columbus; a beloved member of St. Luke’s Church, Granville, where he led adult education classes and was Dean and rhetorician of the B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Brain) Academy Lecture Series; an Oblate, lay member, of the Community of the Transfiguration, Glendale, Ohio; and a former member of the board with Granville’s Robbins Hunter Museum. Tom’s hospitality was legendary, a gourmet cook, a prolific raconteur; Tom was an “Intellectual” who could talk with anyone.

Left to cherish Tom’s memory are his husband The Reverend John M. Kauffman; his canine companions, Cletus and Aggie; nephews and nieces Mike and Diane Lane, Steamboat Springs, CO; Thomas and Kimberly Lane, Max, Molly, and Lucy, Arlington, VA; David and Brigit Lane, Ryan, Hunter, and Natalie, Moseley, VA; Laura Kauffman, Paducah, KY; Christa and Jeff Cox, Graison and Lawson, Dickson, TN; cousins, Gary and Ann Helf, Columbus; Andrea and Jordan Reid, Guy and Sloane, Pataskala; and a host of other family and friends.

In addition to his parents, Tom was preceded in death by his first partner George Chavez; sisters Nancy Wortham and Mary Pat Lane; and Ruth, his faithful canine and work companion.

A Requiem Mass will be held at 11:00 AM, October 16th at Swasey Chapel, Denison University, Granville, Ohio, with The Reverend Canon Karl Ruttan, as celebrant. Masks will be required. A reception will follow at the Robbins Hunter Museum, Granville, Ohio.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Tom’s honor to BalletMet, 322 Mount Vernon Ave, Columbus, OH 43215; St. Luke’s Church, P.O. Box 82, Granville, OH 43023; or The Ann Kiser Lowder Legacy Fund, c/o Robbins Hunter Museum, P.O. Box 183, Granville, OH 43023.

Online condolences may be expressed at

To send flowers to Thomas’ family, please visit McPeek-Hoekstra Funeral Home’s floral store:

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