Dr. Christie John “Chris” Ortman, beloved father, husband, grandfather, and friend passed from this life to eternal rest on Oct. 6. He is gone but not forgotten. Chris was born May 28, 1949 in Cuero, Texas to Wilfred John “Slim” Ortmann and Dorothy Jean Christie Ortmann. Chris is preceded in death by his parents Wilfred John “Slim” Ortmann and Dorothy Jean Christie Ortmann.
Chris grew up on a cattle ranch and chicken farm near Smiley, Texas, where he learned about hard work and developed a love for the outdoors that would last a life time. Chris attended Smiley High School and graduated in 1967 where he was captain of the football team, track team, basketball team, made all-district in football and basketball for numerous years, and had the honor of competing in state and regional track meets in pole vault.
After high school, he attended the University of Texas at Arlington (“UT Arlington”) on a football scholarship. Due to confusion with his name, he was assigned to an all-female dorm. You can imagine the looks a 6’2’’ and 210 pound linebacker would have received upon checking in the all-female dorm. After the initial shock of a linebacker named Christie, Chris was very successful in his football career at UT Arlington being a three-year letterman and captain of the UT Arlington Football team. He received the Bubba Garner Memorial Scholarship award in 1969 for his heart and competitive spirit. His top game was against New Mexico State when he racked up 20 stops, equaling the school record at that time. His love of football continued throughout his life. On any given Saturday in the fall you could find him watching college football, especially his Texas Longhorns. He was infamous for heckling his Aggie and Texas Tech family members, making a wager or two, and sending text messages or making phone calls on a play-by-play basis.
Upon graduating from UT Arlington, Chris attended and graduated from the School of Dentistry at the University of Texas San Antonio. In 1976, he opened up his first practice in San Antonio and then Nixon. Later he closed San Antonio practice and practiced full time in Nixon. His dental office was not only a place to get your teeth cleaned or a root canal; it was a place of friendship and storytelling, a hub for local information. After 40 years of practicing dentistry, Chris retired in May of 2015.
Throughout his life, Chris was an avid outdoorsman whether it was hunting, fishing, arrowhead hunting, or growing vegetables and watermelons in his garden. He was happiest being active outdoors. He chased Boon and Crockett Whitetail Bucks from Gonzales County to Mexico and everywhere in between, winning the Los Cazadores and numerous other contests. He fished everywhere he could from the Aransas Bays, chasing and tailing red fish and thirty inch speckled trout, from South Texas mud holes and creeks, to the Gulf of Mexico, to the rivers of Alaska. Chris had a knack for spotting arrow heads and even converted an old peanut shaker to a sifter, he dug for them every chance he could.
His gardens were known far and wide and shared with all of his family and friends. With his green thumb and good watermelon seeds, he enjoyed the challenge of growing 100 plus pound watermelons. He was also known for being an amazing cook. He took great joy in whipping-up feasts for his family and friends.
Chris never met a stranger. He always had a joke, or “true” story to tell. He could easily light up a room.
Chris was an awesome husband, father, brother, and grandfather. Full of laughter, sunshine, quick wit and charm. He could mesmerize folks with stories of history, politics, Indian artifacts, and anthropology. It was an honor and privilege to love this gentle giant, he was one of a kind.
Chris could always be found with a book in one hand and a pen in the other unless he was one of his notorious jokes. He was an avid reader and writer. He wrote two collections of short stories, Almost Not Crazy and Almost Not Crazy II Fish I Have Known. The following is a quote from one of his short stories, “I hope you live long enough to fish and get spooled. To watch the as the line screams off your reel is a unique, almost magical, experience. It’s a wonderful exhilarating, feeling. You finally got the big bite, that quickly turns into horror, as your big bite is suddenly taking all your line, and, as it melts from your reel, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. If the fish is a true giant, it’s over before you realize what’s happened.” Chris was a true giant and knowing him was an exhilarating feeling that ended before anyone realized what happened, he will be dearly missed.
Left to cherish his memory are his loving wife, Jo Nell Ortman, his daughter and son-in law Christie Ortman Fullilove and Seth Fullilove, step daughter and son-in law Krista Lwellyn and Craig, step daughter and son-in law Kim Deming and Justin, and his grandboys Tucker Andrew Fullilove, Payton Deming, Spencer Deming, and Liam Deming, sister Patricia Stillwell and late bother-in-law Bill Stillwell and brother and sister-in law Dennis Ortmann and Peggy Ortmann.
A visitation will be held Tuesday, Oct. 9 from 1-2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, Nixon.
The Reverend Rhonda Troll will officiate at the service. Interment will follow in the Round Lake Cemetery in Gonzales County. If desired, memorial contributions may be made in Chris’ name to Round Lake Cemetery, Nixon-Smiley Livestock Show or the First United Methodist Church-Nixon. You are welcome to sign the online guest book at www.finchfuneralchapels.com. Arrangements with Finch Funeral Chapel, LLC – Nixon, 830-582-1521.