Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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March 6, 2013

Beloved Rusk civic leader passes away Tuesday at 76

RUSK — Charles Andrew Horton, a lifelong educator who served the city faithfully over the years as mayor and city councilman,  died early Tuesday morning in a Jack-sonville Hospital. He was 76.

His passing prompted a wave of remorse from the many people who knew and admired him – such as Rusk City Manager Mike Murray.

“He was probably better known to most people in town as an educator,” Murray said. “He was principal of the elementary school for years, and also active in the business community, selling real estate and doing appraisals. We really appreciate his service. He put in a great deal of time to the city of Rusk and he will be sorely missed.”

Born July 16, 1936, in Franklin, Horton was a resident of Rusk for 28 years. During that time he served as principal of Jones Elementary, Quail Valley Elementary, Briar Gate Elementary all of  Missouri City, and finally Rusk Elementary School – which is where he retired. He spent his remaining years in real estate.  

He had many years of civic service including service as president of the Lions Club, Rusk Industrial Foundation, TEA Accreditation Team and president of the Board of Cherokee County Realtors.

He also was awarded the Lifetime Achieve-ment Award from the Rusk Chamber of Commerce.

However, his proudest achievement by far was said to be a long fulfilled life with his wife and family.

He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Betty Horton,  a son and two daughters. He was preceded in death by a son. The family did not immediately return calls for comment.

Murray said he remembers Horton when he first was elected to the council in 1996.

“At the time, I was a brand-new, young, wet-behind-the-ears city manager and I always appreciated his input and leadership on the council,” Murray said.

Horton was serving as mayor pro-tem around 2002, when the mayor decided to step down.

Horton was appointed to take his place. Later, around 2003, Horton was elected mayor in his own right.

Kay Epperson ran against Horton for mayor in a three-way race that followed about six years ago.

Both she and Horton lost to another challenger by a very small margin.

Epperson remembers that cold and rainy day very well, because her husband volunteered to pick up Horton's campaign signs.

“We've been friends every since,” she said. “He was a kind, sweet, wonderful man loved by so many. He did so much good in this community.”

Robert "Bob" Golds-berry, executive director of the Rusk Chamber of Commerce remembers the positive influence the man had on the Rusk community.

“He was the mayor when I started here in 2004,” Goldsberry said. “I always thought of him as a really good guy and a good civic and community leader.”

Rusk Mayor Angela Raiborn agreed.

“I am saddened to hear of Mr. Horton's passing,” she said. “He was a wonderful man and made many contributions to our community.  He loved Rusk and was proud to serve his community on the   Rusk City Council as councilman and mayor. He was loved and respected by many and will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the Horton family.”

Lewie Byers, president of the Texas National Bank in Rusk, was a very dear friend of Horton's and remembers his dedication to civic matters.

“He served on every committee he could and he cared so deeply about education,” Byers said. “He also worked for the Houston school district at one point. He had a pretty good career there.”

At one point, Horton switched gears and tried purchasing a general store. But after running it awhile, he decided to go back to education, Byers said.

“He did whatever he could to move the quality of education to that level,” he said.

The obituary that listed Horton's death did not specify the cause of his death. Byers speculated it was congestive heart failure. In recent years Horton suffered from health problems that required him wear a pacemaker.

“I saw him last Sunday and he wasn't looking too good,” Byers said. “He was having a very hard time. But I remember him as being such a strong person.”

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