Gary Horn

Gary Horn, 81, died Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 in Phoenix, Ariz., surrounded by family and friends at his home.

Funeral services are at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 at First Assembly of God Church, 3906 Lakeview Drive in Woodward, Okla.

Memorial contributions can be made in his name to the Gary and Jean Horn Scholarship Fund at Ferris State University 1201 S. State St., Big Rapids, MI 49307.

Gary was born Oct. 24, 1940, the oldest of three children, to Verl and Samantha Horn in Mooreland, Okla. He graduated from Mooreland High School in 1958.

He married Darla Jean Horn on Aug. 29, 1958. They celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary in 2012.

Gary served in the U.S. Army from 1958 to 1961. Following his honorable discharge the couple returned to Oklahoma, where Gary enrolled at Northwestern State College in Alva and began his lifelong career as an educator.

He taught communication skills at both the high school and college levels for more than 40 years, earning his master’s degree at Pittsburg State University and pursuing his doctoral studies at North Texas State University in Denton, Texas.

He taught communication and coached debate from 1974 to 1985 at Southwestern College in Winfield, and from 1985 until his retirement in 2005 at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich. Gary coached several national debate champion teams and was honored by his peers throughout his career. He served as Pi Kappa Delta National President from 1985-87; received the E.R. Nichols Award for outstanding contributions to the discipline of intercollegiate forensics and excellence in teaching in 1991; and received the 1991 Ferris State University Distinguished Teacher Award for his dedication to and excellence in teaching; co-founded the National Education Debate Association in 1994; was inducted into the Pi Kappa Delta Hall of Fame in 2005; and was named a member of the Kansas Speech Communication Association Collegiate Hall of Fame in 2021. He helped to establish the Kiwanis Club in Big Rapids and was active with the Salvation Army in Big Rapids. He was also a 32nd degree Mason. Gary loved to travel, always offered words of encouragement, and loved to celebrate holidays and birthdays with his family. Most of all, he enjoyed his seven grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean; his parents; and two sisters, Nancy Butler and Ramona Bishop.

He is survived by son, Rick Horn, of Abilene; daughter Rene’ Kaufman and husband, Tony, of Lawrence; daughter Dr. Mary Jo Horn and husband, Mark Sisson, of Fayetteville, Ark.; seven grandchildren, Jennifer Kaufman, Jessica (Tim) Kearney, Andrew Horn, Sydney Kaufman, William (Woody) Horn, Samuel Horn and Alaina Jean Horn-Sisson; great-granddaughter, Holland Horn; sister-in-law, Ann Hill, and her husband and Gary’s lifelong best friend, Roscoe; and special friend, Pam Joraanstad.