Frank P. Worts, 78, of Meadowbrook, a teacher and administrator who worked to improve the lives of senior citizens, died Sunday, Aug. 9, of cancer at his home.
One of Dr. Worts’ achievements was as a co-creator of early in-home service programs for older adults administered by the Philadelphia Geriatric Center and the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, his family said in a statement.
The programs, which facilitate food, transportation, and homemaker services for senior citizens, have become a national model, his family said.
Since 1993, Dr. Worts had been an assistant professor and lecturer in Lincoln University’s human services department. He became involved in the master’s level human services program in 2013, and continued until June.
He directed Lincoln’s continuing education program and, in tandem with the University of Pennsylvania’s Center on Aging, developed and arranged computer training courses for 650 older people and professionals employed in health and human services.
Before joining the Lincoln faculty, he taught in Temple University’s School of Social Administration, in Penn’s master of social gerontology program, and at Arcadia University in Glenside.
Before an awareness of social justice and an appreciation of diverse cultures became mainstream, Dr. Worts used those values to inform his work and his dealings with others.
“His achievements reflected his passion for social justice, an appreciation for diverse cultures, and joy in the company of family and friends,” his friend Hedra Packman wrote in a tribute.
Born in Audubon Park, he graduated from Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., followed by a 1963 master’s degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
While in Italy, he was ordained a Catholic priest. He was part of a cohort of activists who channeled their spirituality into community organizing in Camden County.
Dr. Worts became the associate supervisor of Catholic Social Services in Camden County while earning a master’s degree in social work from Penn in 1972.
In 2014, at age 72, he completed a doctorate in educational technology from the online Walden University. In doing so, he became “a role model for adult learners,” Packman said.
He left the priesthood in the early 1970s. His next project was codeveloping a pioneering in-home service program for older adults in Philadelphia.
“This program became the model for home and community-based service systems across Philadelphia, the region, and nationally,” his family said.
Throughout his career, education was an ongoing theme. At Lincoln, he served as the research coordinator and director of the Interdisciplinary Center. He had a leading role in both bachelor’s and master’s human services programs.
“Students viewed him as the heart and soul of the master’s program,” his family said in a statement. “Over the span of his career, Frank taught and inspired hundreds of social workers, health-care professionals, clergy, and direct-care workers to be more effective providers, advocates, and change agents for older adults.”
He was a board member of Blacks Educating Blacks About Sexual Health Issues and Unitarian Universalist House Outreach.
He traveled widely, exploring the Tikal ruins in Guatemala and the Puye Cliff Dwellings at Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico. He enjoyed attending concerts and the theater, and reading about philosophy, science, and technology.
“He was always reaching for the next challenge,” his family said.
He coached youth sports and was a passionate Eagles supporter.
Surviving is his wife of 42 years, Avalie Saperstein; son Terence; a brother; and nieces.
Plans for services are pending.