A godly man

Gary and Sharon Bortz. Gary’s hair is white from chemo therapy. He never saw this picture.

The tall, handsome, dark haired man found Sharon in her shop where the Quarter Maybe More Store in Mt. Pleasant is now. She had a used furniture business. He asked her where the restroom was. Sharon led the man down a hallway. That’s where he kissed her for the first time. He smelled like Aqua Velva. Sharon melted on the spot.

It all started five years before when a friend of Sharon’s invited her to a Bible study in Winfield on Sunday afternoon. There she met Evangelist Gary Bortz and his wife, Olive. Olive was much older than Gary and was sometimes confused as his mother.

Over the course of five years, Olive passed away. After one of the Bible studies, Gary said to Sharon, “I’ve been thinking about asking you out for supper.”

“Oh?” Sharon said, like he was commenting on the weather.

She had Gary pick her up at her daughter’s house in Trenton. She didn’t want to be seen with Gary in Mt. Pleasant because of gossip, so they drove to the Second Street Cafe in Ottumwa. (Both Gary and Sharon are from Ottumwa.) Over chicken fried steak, Gary casually mentioned, like it was something he had just thought of, that he was looking for someone to help him with his ministry.

Sharon said, “Well, I can help you pray about it.”

Gary cleared his throat, “I mean you.”

Sharon just about fell off her stool.

He said, “I’m going to Kansas City this weekend to speak. I’ll call you when I get back on Sunday night.”

When Gary dropped her off, she jumped out of the car and ran to her daughter’s house like her pants were on fire. She heard him holler, “I think more of you than you realize!”

Sharon didn’t leave her apartment that weekend. She prayed and asked God, “What have You done? Are You answering my prayers?” She was divorced and had been asking God to put a Godly man in her life. She heard God say, “This is the man for you.”

Sunday came and went. There was no phone call from Gary. Sharon thought, “Well, that’s the end of that.”

On Monday, Gary walked into her used furniture store in Mt. Pleasant. He had been delayed in Kansas City. That’s when he asked where the restroom was and kissed her for the first time.

During their engagement, Gary began coughing up blood. He had cancer and needed to have his left lung removed. Sharon stayed with him the whole time and the gossip really started. Before his surgery, Gary asked Sharon to marry him. She said, “I will only marry you if you get up off of that bed after surgery a healthy man.” Which he did. Sharon was younger than Gary and sometimes confused as his daughter.

Sharon and Gary had five good years together. She traveled around the country helping with his ministry. She was his secretary and, along with Gary, prayed for people. Gary had the unique ability of knowing where he was going at all times. Sharon rode along and just enjoyed being with him.

Gary’s cancer returned. He requested that they have their picture taken before he lost his hair again from the chemo therapy. Gary never saw that picture. He also had his funeral arrangements made and his will updated so that Sharon would be taken care of if he passed away. Gary died on Easter weekend, 2006.

Sharon is praying for another Godly man to come into her life.


Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.