William Wortzman secured a bakery job as an elementary school student and stayed until college.
“I only went to school a half a day – I was on a work study program, so there was a lot of sacrifice along the way, because I didn’t really get a chance to participate in activities in school, but I was able to help my family and that was more important at that time in my life,” Wortzman said.
“I knew what it was like to work in front of a hot oven for many years in a bakery, so I could see that that wasn’t what I wanted to do the rest of my life. I went to college, got a couple of degrees and a couple of licenses, and life has treated me pretty well as a result of all that.”
Wortzman is passionate about charitable work and giving back to his community. He said Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland has been helping his family since before he was born, explaining his mother had a lot on her plate with four children, two of whom struggled with mental illness.
Wortzman ultimately became the organization’s board chair and now serves as a life director.
“It’s an honor and it’s incredibly satisfying, because they continue to help us today,” Wortzman said of his work supporting the organization. His younger brother lives in a group home and his case managed by JFSA.
“They started helping my family when I was a child, because I had an older brother that was mentally ill, and they’re helping my younger brother today,” Wortzman said. “They helped us with everything you can conceive of. There was food, there was clothing, there was money. I got a scholarship to go to college, and they helped us with case management and counseling. It’s an incredible organization and we do everything to help people in need.”
Wortzman was the only person in his family to attend college. He said he has been ambitious since childhood.
“I’ve been working hard ever since I was a child and I’m still working hard in my career,” Wortzman said. “At this point, I’m in my 70s.”
He is a certified public accountant and an attorney, and continues to practice in both professions. He said he was recruited by Ernst & Young and took a job there after graduating from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in Cleveland to improve his accounting skills in order to take the certified public accountant exam.
“But I stayed with them in taxation and became a tax professional there,” Wortzman said. “In those years, half of their tax staff were lawyers and half were CPAs, and of course I was both, so I was highly motivated. I don’t know where that came from, but it was there and it was part of me.”
He now serves as president of Wortzman & Gingerich Co., a CPA firm in Beachwood.
Wortzman has done charitable work in Cleveland’s Jewish and non-Jewish communities. He said, these days, he is drawn to fundraising.
“I’ve gravitated towards fundraising after literally being an officer or committee chair in every type of committee that exists in a charity – I’ve tried everything, because I get bored easily,” Wortzman said. “It’s very gratifying to raise money when you’re emotionally tied to an organization because of what they’re accomplishing in the community.”
He said each organization he is involved in helps individuals with mental disabilities.
“I’m working in organizations that have a mission that really was part of our family issue, in terms of the problems that needed to be solved; of course, you never solved mental illness – you deal with it as best you can, so that’s what I’m raising money for,” Wortzman said.
“It’s very gratifying, because everyone wants to make a gift. Some people can’t afford a gift, but we figure out a way for them to make a gift. It’s not always money; it could be their time, their energy, but it’s very satisfying.”