Horton, longtime Brookings resident and local builder, passed away peacefully Nov. 9, 2013, at his home in Brookings surrounded by his family. He was 94.
Don was born Sept. 30, 1919, in Dix, Neb., to Delbert and Ruby (Miller) Horton. He was raised during the Great Depression and was the second of eight children.
He attended school through the eighth grade. He left home at the age of 15 to join the service. He and two friends hopped trains to the California coast, where he was unable to join due to his age and found out he had a heart murmur.
His friends were admitted and Don was left to his own devices. He then hopped another train and headed to Portland, and several areas thereafter, where he performed any and all work he could find. After the Depression he joined his father and brothers as brick masons.
In 1948 while in Prineville, he met Mary “Marge” Bell and they married on Oct. 29, 1950, in Las Vegas. In 1953 they permanently settled in Brookings and began Horton Brothers Construction.
His father and brothers moved on and Don became the sole owner and operator of Horton Bros. His construction business continued to grow and included many Brookings homes, businesses, schools, churches and libraries that made Brookings, including the City Hall, what it is today.
His work extended from College of the Redwoods in Eureka north to the Bandon Shopping Center and east to the Collier Tunnel rest area. Buildings include but are not limited to the Harris Beach rest area, Curry General Hospital, Curry County Jail, Port of Brookings Harbor, Brookings Elks Lodge, many locations of Ray’s Food Place and the Trees of Mystery, along with Paul Bunyan himself. He also built and ran Pacific Center and Custom Leases.
In the years after the building boom, Don developed another hobby and addiction and opened 101 Auto Sales. He thrived on the adrenaline rush of big-city auctions and then the enjoyment of selling the vehicles and helping so many with their purchases.
More than a skilled craftsman and businessman though, Don gave back to the community he lived in. At the age of 50, in 1969, he was chosen as the first annual “Citizen of the Year” by the Brookings Harbor Chamber of Commerce for outstanding service to the community. He was also a member of Rotary Club of Brookings-Harbor, Brookings Elks Lodge 1934, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church and the Curry County Homebuilders Association. He was founder and board member of Western Bank, Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce and past president and member of the Oregon Independent Auto Dealers Association.
In 1999, Don was chosen to be Grand Marshal of the Azalea Festival and dubbed “The Last Great Don.”
His favorite pastimes were his annual hunting and fishing trips with the McVays and Nidiffers and other friends, which even included a trip to Mongolia. Their relationship extended to a partnership and construction of a vacation home in Mexico.
His sense of humor ranged from outlandish hunting stories to practical jokes and his love of life and energy kept him busy from sun up till evening, seven days a week. He enjoyed watching sports, listening to music, spending time with his family and always helping someone in need, normally from behind the scenes, never wanting to be in the spotlight. His other interests included raising cattle and horses with his children, and helping people get started in their own businesses in the community; he was instrumental in the annual hill climb at Whaleshead Beach Resort.
Don was a voracious reader and master cribbage player, a game that each of his children and many friends are now accomplished players of. He loved to challenge and usually won, but it was the playing that he loved!
Good times are remembered by his children of Dan’s motorcycle racing days, when he was always there as a mechanic and cheering on, not only Dan but the many friends that were included as friends and team. Colleen and Michelle have fond memories of raising horses, attending fairs and trail rides. He was father and grandfather to many a child that he loved and cared for.
Survivors include children Daniel Horton and his wife Karyn of Bend, Colleen Horton, Michelle Horton-Tidwell and her husband Rick of Brookings, Donald Horton Jr. of Napa, Calif., Linda Robinson of Oklahoma; brother Jim Horton of California; sisters Margie Patton of Las Vegas and Betty Smithson of Pleasanton, Texas; grandchildren include Devin, Austin and Blain Tidwell, David and Kiffany Horton, Timothy and Robert Horton, Angela (Horton) Long; great-grandchildren Kathaleen, Madeline and Robert Jr., Leo Daniel, Nolan and Tripp.
Don was preceded in death by his wife, Marjorie; daughter Sharon Russell and brothers Jack, Bruce, Bob and Wayne Horton.
He taught his children responsibility, morals, standards and the value of hard work and love. He is missed, but everywhere we look we see a person he helped or a building he built that is a reminder of what an honor it is to be his children.
A celebration of Don’s life will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at Brookings Elks Lodge 1934, 800 Elk Drive, Brookings. A reception will follow there.
Donations may be made to St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 1237, Brookings, OR 97415.
Redwood Memorial Chapel is assisting the family. Condolences may be expressed online at www.redwoodmemorial.net.