Georgeann Ferris Workman, 1942-2007, An Extraordinary Community Volunteer

Georgeann Ferris Workman, 1942 – 2007

By the time she entered East High, Georgeann Ferris was already a skilled leader who was devoted to serving her community. She exhibited leadership and commitment throughout her life, participating in established organizations and organizing new groups to address specific needs.

In high school, Georgeann was elected president of the Safety Club in both her junior and senior years. Founded in 1957, our first year at East, the Safety Club’s “main purpose has been to promote safety in school and in the community. To keep students interested in safety, the club has a display case in which pictures of accidents, accident statistics, and a list of fines for traffic violations are posted each month. The Downtown Kiwanis Club awards two safe driving plaques each month to East High for students who have demonstrated safe driving. ” (Echoes 1960, p. 50). At left, Echoes 1959 photo of Georgeann and Nancy Froelich selling doughnuts to raise money for Safety Club. 

Georgeann married Michael (“Mick”) Workman in 1962, and they initially lived in Wichita. Mick served in the Air Force as an Airman First Class. Eventually, they moved to Bedford, Texas, a suburban town in Tarrant County between Dallas and Ft. Worth. They were active members of the Martin United Methodist Church, a base from which Georgeann moved into volunteer activities with other organizations. 

Georgeann’s expertise at organizing fund-raisers may have started with selling doughnuts at East High, but she was operating on a Texas-size scale twenty years later. In a Letter to the Editor in the 1980’s, Georgeann thanked the local Hyundai dealer for donating a new car and congratulated the winner of the car raffle, which benefited the Tarrant County Society for Hearing Impaired Infants and Youth, Inc., which she founded and led as president. In 1986, Georgeann organized a live music show at the local high school to raise $250,000 for a liver transplant for a local child. In the 1990’s, she organized annual Breakfast with Santa, fund-raising events sponsored by the regional American Association of University Women to provide scholarships for area students.

Judging from newspaper articles in 1983-96, both Georgeann and Mick Workman devoted themselves to advocacy on behalf of hearing impaired children. When the Ft. Worth School Board closed nine schools as part of its desegregation plan and to meet budget imperatives, Georgeann organized efforts to persuade the School Board to convert one of the closed schools to a center for students who were deaf and hard of hearing. Programs existed to serve these special needs children, but Georgeann argued that they were fragmented and under-funded. ln addition to addressing the board, she brought other advocates for a two-hour demonstration and picketing of the district administrative office. The school board decided to lease the school in question to profit-making entities, an action which Georgeann denounced in the local papers.

She and Mick continued to work with hear-impaired children and adults through the Tarrant County Society for Hearing-Impaired Infants and Children, a non-profit support group for parents of  children with hearing problems. Beginning in the 1980’s, they invited these families to holiday gatherings at hospitals and shopping malls, where Mick was the “Signing Santa.” He used sign language to talk with signing children about their Christmas wishes. The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram quoted Georgeann Workman. “We basically had been aware that our children were pretty restricted at Christmas-time. This gives them more of an opportunity to do what other children do in telling Santa what they would like for Christmas and having their pictures taken with him.” Mick Workman commented, “As a Signing Santa, I get excited when these kids understand me and I understand them. I probably get more out of it than the kids.”

The Workman’s daughter Stephanie brought her two little girls to see Santa, who (reporters noted) observed that Santa looked a lot like Grandpa, and Mrs. Claus was actually their Gram. 

In 1996, Georgeann Workman helped to organize efforts to establish a hospice program following the closing of the regional Dallas-Ft. Worth Palliative Care Center and another similar operation. Having visited the regional facility to see a member of her church, Georgeann noted, “I knew first-hand that this was a marvelous place.” With no in-patient hospice care available in the county and an understanding that hospice services would have difficulty making money, Georgeann and other organizers proposed establishment of a non-profit hospice organization to 45 religious leaders from all faiths. 

An important community asset, Georgeann Ferris Workman did her homework and made things happen. She is buried in the Dallas-Ft. Worth National Cemetery with her husband Mick, an Air Force veteran, who died one year earlier.

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Barb Hammond for finding articles about Georgeann Ferris Workman in Newspapers.com. 

Obituary from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, 2007

Georgeann Workman, 64, “a remarkable wife, mom, gram and friend,” passed away Monday, Jan. 15, 2007.  

Survivors: Children, Stephanie and Gary Bryce and Tim and Tracy Workman; and granddaughters, Ashley and Alison Bryce and Brittany Workman.

Funeral: 3 p.m. Saturday at Martin United Methodist Church, Bedford. Visitation: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Forest Ridge Funeral Home, Hurst.

Memorials: In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Good News Sunday School Class at Martin United Methodist, 2621 Bedford Road, Bedford, Texas 76021.

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