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Former county commissioner Jack Worthman dies

FORT WAYNE -- Jack R. Worthman, whose work as a homebuilder and Allen County commissioner had a profound effect on the community, died Thursday morning. He was 86.

Worthman, who continued the family business started by his father, Worthman Homes, served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, graduated from Purdue University and the Chicago School of Fine Arts.

He was the award-winning designer for Worthman Homes, which built residential projects such as Indian Village, Woodhurst, Lincolnshire, Winterset and Strafford Place.

He was an Allen County commissioner for 12 years, leaving the post in 1994, but not before being instrumental in the development of Headwaters Park; Memorial Stadium, where the Wizards played; and the renovations of the Allen County Courthouse.

“Jack was a tremendous guy. His passing’s going to be a huge loss to the community,” said County Commissioner Nelson Peters, R-1st, whom Worthman hired as county human resources director in the mid-1980s.

“He changed the organization of the building department, put a new face on it to work with developers in the community.…He’s got his fingerprints all over this county.”

Republican Party Chairman Steve Shine knew Worthman from attending South Side High School with Worthman’s children and living near the family. Shine grew up in a Worthman home.

“Jack was one of the outstanding homebuilders and contractors of his time,” Shine said, citing the Worthman Office Mall at Paulding and Fairfield, which was a progressive building when it was built. “Worthman homes were known for their quality and craftsmanship.”

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Bettina Worthman of New Haven; sons Jeffery and Martin Worthman; daughters Lisa Chiddister, Alice Martin and Faith Wise; and a sister, Joan Flohr.

Memorial services will be at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Plymouth Congregational Church, 501 W. Berry St. The family will receive friends at the church from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Memorials may be directed to the church or to Heartland Hospice.