John Russell Horton 1926 - 2018John Russell Horton, 91, died Thursday, January 4, 2018 at the Hillcrest House in Dallas, Texas. John was born on February 18, 1926, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to Jake and Ella Floyd Horton. He lived in Tuscaloosa until he was eight years old and then moved to Chumuckla, Florida. He attended Chumuckla High School where he played basketball.
In 1943, at 17, John convinced his mother to allow him to enlist in the Navy and was trained as a Pharmacist’s Mate. He was assigned to the USS Sheridan and participated in seven landings in the Pacific including the invasions of Tarawa, Saipan, Kwajalein, Guam, two different landings in the Philippines and was at Okinawa but did not go ashore. His ship was in Tokyo Bay on the day the surrender documents were signed. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps and Bronze Star Medals for gallantry in evacuating wounded on the first day of the invasion of Tarawa. He was discharged from active duty in January 1947.
Returning to Pensacola, Florida, after the war, he met and married Elaine Manning and they had two daughters, Brenda and Sandy. John spent many years working for Sherrill Pure Oil Company in Pensacola before starting his own company, Horton Energy Products. John loved Alabama football, golf, catfish and his daughters and grand kids to whom he was known as Pops. We are most appreciative that he lived the last two years of his life in Dallas, Texas, where his great-grandson came to know and love him, just as his grand kids did.
John was predeceased by his parents and brother, Jacob. He is survived by his daughters, Brenda Elias (Matthew) of Dallas, Texas, and Sandy Smith (Timothy) of Leesburg, Virginia; four grandchildren, Claire Elias Gordon (Jeff) and Sarah Elias of Dallas, Amanda West Jones (Pete) of Panama City, Florida, and Johnathan West of Arlington, Virginia, one great grandson, Matthew Gordon and his sister in law, Frances Horton of Pensacola, Florida.
Graveside services and burial with full military honors will be held at 10:00 AM on Friday, January 12, at Barrancas National Cemetery. Family and friends will depart Olive Baptist Church (the old Warrington Baptist Church), 103 West Winthrop Ave, Pensacola, Florida, at 9:15 AM to travel to the graveside services.
EULOGY - by Claire (granddaughter)
My memories of our Pops run long and deep. I am grateful that he was able to live such a long and rich life, and at the same time I know that there will be a huge void in our lives as he was such a huge pillar in the architecture of our entire family. He was larger than life and lived that way. What a legacy he leaves behind! He touched his children, grandchildren and everyone he met in such memorable ways! Pops loved Alabama football, golf, catfish and his daughters and grandkids. And how fitting that Alabama won the National Championship on Monday – Roll Tide!
He was born on February 18, 1926, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to Jake and Ella Horton. He lived there until he was eight years old and then moved to Chumuckla. He attended Chumuckla High School where he played basketball.
In 1943, at 17, Pops convinced his mother (Big Momma) to allow him to enlist in the Navy and he was trained as a Pharmacist’s Mate. He was assigned to the USS Sheridan and participated in seven landings in the Pacific, two different landings in the Philippines and was at Okinawa but did not go ashore. His ship was in Tokyo Bay on the day the surrender documents were signed. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps and Bronze Star Medals for gallantry in evacuating wounded on the first day of the invasion of Tarawa. He was discharged from active duty in January 1947.
Returning to Pensacola, after the war, he met and married our grandmother Elaine Manning and they had two daughters, Brenda and Sandy. Pops spent many years working for Sherrill & Pure Oil Company in Pensacola before starting his own company, Horton Energy Products.
Some of my oldest memories of Pops are of his home that he loved and loved to share with his children and grandchildren running around, and playing in the pool. We had some amazing times there and share a lot of memories. And while he and my Granny were not together any more during the years that we were young (they were still very close), I have so many memories of him constantly coming over to her house or calling her to see what we were up to. He enjoyed the time with us, and us with him.
He gave the BEST advice. And he also gave it often. If he was watching the weather channel, he would call us (whether in Dallas or Virginia or Panama City Beach) to tell us about a storm passing through. (He loved following the Weather Channel). He would give advice on almost anything – especially if you asked. When I began working and was telling him about my travels, one of the funniest things I remember him saying is that when he traveled he would go to the cemetery and look up names to put on his dinner expense reports!
Pops gave lots of advice on driving. He would always give us a lecture about safety on the roads. And when it came to choosing favorite stories, everyone’s boiled down to being on the road with Pops. While he might have lectured us on road safety, he found himself in a sticky situation when babysitting Mandy and Johnathan when they were teenagers and he got lost driving them home in their neighborhood. Embarassing Mandy and Johnathan as they drove around in circles, at a certain point he asked “Where do I turn??” and when Mandy said “right here!!” he turned and they would up in a ditch. And the kids on the floorboard – still ensuring none of their friends would see them.
I once drove him from Pensacola to Dallas, when I first moved to Dallas, in a little red Honda I owned. It was small. And it was jam packed with my belongings – laundry baskets full of clothes, a printer, all types of junk. His passenger side seat was so far forward, he kept joking that if the airbag deployed he would “be a goner!” And every time he would doze off I would accidentally go over the raised median markers and it would startle him and wake him up! So he didn’t sleep a wink. We made it to Dallas, and unfortunately that night my car was broken into and they stole everything. The first thing he said was that he wish that would have happened 700 miles back! He always knew how to diffuse a situation – especially for all of us whenever we were in a tough place.
I am most grateful that he came to live with us in Dallas for the past couple of years, and we got to spend so much time with him and Matthew really got to know him as well. Pops called Matthew his “buddy boy” and was always asking where the “little man” was. Pops loved to tease Matthew!
Another testament to his personality and how much character he had – was seen at the nursing home he lived at these last several months. Even though he was there for only a short time, so many of the staff really got a kick out of his personality and all of his joking around. He kept them on their toes and every time they would pass by he would shout “Yo!!”. It became something they all said back and forth. In such a short time they told us no one had ever made such a large impression on them!
Pops, we will always miss you. But we have so many wonderful memories to hang on to. Your guidance and love will carry us through to the end of our days. The past couple years when Pops was with us in Dallas, he would say almost daily that it was time to get on the road back to Pensacola. Pops, you are home now. We love you – and we will see you again one day!