COLUMBIA— When Guy Horton told his wife, Linda Horton, that he wanted to work in public relations instead of teach journalism, she was confused.
"Why PR?" she said.
"I wouldn't sell soap, but I'd sell the University of Missouri," she recalled her husband saying.
Guy M. Horton, a retired University of Missouri System employee of 25 years, died Tuesday, April 30, 2013. He was 80.
Dr. Horton was born April 11, 1933, in Blackjack, Texas, to Hyter and Nelia (Harrison) Horton.
The youngest of 12 kids, he worked on the family farm in the fields and gardening. Dr. Horton decided as a teenager he wanted to explore life outside the farm and pursue his interest in education at college.
He graduated from East Texas State Teachers College (now Texas A&M University-Commerce) with a bachelor's degree and later a master's degree, in 1957. He was drafted into the Army during the Korean War.
He graduated from MU in 1969 with a doctorate in journalism while working part-time in the university's public relations office.
"He fell in love with public relations," daughter Ellen Shriner said. "He decided he wanted to make a career out of it at the University of Missouri."
Dr. Horton eventually became director of university relations and later executive assistant to then-president James Olson.
"He was efficient, effective and had extreme integrity," said Mel George, vice president for academic affairs at the time and a longtime friend of Dr. Horton's. "He was the conscience for our relationship with the press."
The six staff members who worked with the president maintained a close friendship even after Olson retired. Since 1987, the staff and Olson, along with their families, have gotten together for a weekend each year to catch up.
Dr. Horton retired in 1992 after serving five system presidents.
"He was a kind, considerate and gracious human being who went out of his way to solve problems and pave the way for both individuals and the university to move ahead," Chancellor Emeritus Richard Wallace said in an email.
Dr. Horton moved back to his hometown of Blackjack and focused on family, volunteer work — including in the food pantry — and the outdoors.
"His passions were gardening and farming," Shriner said. "It was kind of like coming full circle from his childhood."
Dr. Horton is survived by his wife, Linda, of Blackjack, Texas; two daughters, Ellen (Ken) Shriner, of Boynton Beach, Fla., and Amy (Robert) Hayhurst, of Houston, and one grandchild, Nathan Hayhurst.
There will be a memorial service at 11 a.m. Monday at First United Methodist Church, 225 Lovers Lane, Athens, Texas, following burial at the community cemetery in Blackjack, Texas.
Memorial contributions can be made to First United Method Church, P.O. Box 911, Athens, Texas, 75751 or the Henderson County Food Pantry, P.O. Box 2062, Athens, Texas, 75751.
Condolences can be posted at www.carroll-lehr.com.