There’s one question that longtime City Cemetery Supervisor Steve Wortman probably won’t miss being asked: “Is it spooky?”
Wortman has answered that question the same way the estimated hundreds of times he’s been asked over the years.
“Nah, it’s not spooky,” Wortman said. “It’s just part of life. People pass. You’re just trying to do the right thing for families who have lost loved ones.”
Wortman has taken a lot of pride in managing the City’s two cemeteries, Columbus and Roselawn, on the east side of town. But on April 14th, he’ll officially retire after a career with the City of Columbus that dates back to July 1990.
“He has done great. He really has done a fantastic job,” Public Property Director Doug Moore said. “He will be difficult to replace.”
Wortman got his start with the City in the streets department, moving through the ranks over the years before transitioning to his current role at the end of 2009 and following in the footsteps of the late Bill Staub.
“I had to study all the maps to figure out how everything went,” Wortman recalled. “It was just a learning thing.”
Wortman has stayed plenty busy in the cemetery supervisor role, as he has been responsible for the operation and maintenance of each location. That has included working with a small number of part-time employees on groundskeeping, using heavy equipment to dig and open graves, as well as selling cemetery plots. He has enjoyed working with families to help them during their time of grieving and spending time outdoors to make the cemeteries look their best.
“It’s basically like working in the park,” he said.
Despite retiring, Wortman will stay busy with family and personal projects when he steps away from the job. His five adult children (three sons and two daughters) live in the area.
“I plan on working on my house, getting it the way I like it,” Wortman said. “My son-in-law has a cattle farm and 12 chicken barns.”
One of his sons is also the head of maintenance for a company, so he could end up doing some work for him in the future.
Of course, he expects to have some time to kick back and relax. One of his hobbies will ensure he'll continue to be outdoors often.
“I’ll do some fishing. I have a boat,” he said, with a smile. “I’ll take some of the retired guys I’ve worked with out there.”
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: City Cemetery Supervisor Steve Wortman takes a break on a March 2023 morning at Columbus Cemetery while talking about his tenure with the City of Columbus.)