Yoakum's ultimate master of ceremonies dies (Video)
Visitation: 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Thiele-Cooper Funeral Home, 1477 Carl Ramert Drive, Yoakum. The funeral: 3 p.m. Sunday at the Yoakum Community Center, 105 Huck St.
If ever a last name fit a person perfectly, it was Jim Witte.
Witte, (pronounced witty), left his mark in the Crossroads with his tenure as the master of ceremonies for Country Music U.S.A., the monthly opry in Yoakum that ended a 34-year run in July after more than 400 performances.
Witte, whose quick-wit and easy-going style made him a crowd favorite, died Wednesday at 78 in his Yoakum home after a long battle with cancer.
Louise Witte, his wife of more than 26 years, recalled Witte attempting to get in on the musical side of the show.
"He once attempted to play the guitar, but it quickly became an impromptu comedy act," she said. "He often wore costumes, wigs and all kinds of ridiculous get-ups just to make the audience laugh."
Country Music U.S.A. was a major fundraiser for the Yoakum Rotary Club. Witte was a longtime Rotarian.
His love for the event was summed up in a July article in the Victoria Advocate, in which Witte said he was going to miss the members of the audience the most.
'The crowds are so wonderful. They are family to us. Everyone that comes through that door is family,' he said in the article.
Witte also touched the community in other ways.
He served as president of the Yoakum Community Hospital District board of directors since its inception.
Witte and his wife were also members of the hospital's auxiliary and made substantial monetary donations to the facility.
Hospital administrator Karen Barber said Witte's loss would be felt.
"I knew him for many years, and he had a real compassion for this hospital," Barber said. "He touched many, many lives. Whatever he did, he did passionately."
Witte's wife summed up the reaction to her husband's death.
"He meant a lot to this community," she said. "He will be greatly missed by more than just me."