Jack Horton, vet, philanthropist and jokester, dies at age 80

Friday, December 27, 2013 | 8:03 p.m. CST; updated 2:03 p.m. CST, Saturday, December 28, 2013

COLUMBIA– Dr. Jack Horton was serious about veterinary medicine, but he knew there was always humor to be found in life.

On a fishing trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Dr. Horton and his brother-in-law, Jerry Holman, were competing to catch the biggest marlin. The loser had to buy dinner.

"He kept saying 'I didn't catch anything,' and had to buy me dinner," Holman said. Before dinner, he suggested they walk by the dock — and there was Dr. Horton's marlin, big enough to win him dinner.

Dr. Jack Horton of Columbia died Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. He was 80.

He was born Sept. 8, 1933, in Kansas City to O.J. and Frances Horton. He married Margaret Thomson on Feb. 18, 1989.

Dr. Horton graduated from MU's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1957. He served as a captain in the Air Force Veterinary Corps. In 1960, he came back to Columbia to start Horton Animal Hospital.

Susan Sczepanski, who started working at Horton Animal Hospital in 1993, said it was one of the first vet clinics in Columbia. When Sczepanski bought Dr. Horton's share of Horton Animal Hospital-Forum in 1999, she was asked if she would change the name.

"Why would I?" Sczepanki said. "Horton means quality. It's his legacy."

Dr. Horton served as president of the Veterinary Medical Foundation and was a member of the Missouri and American Veterinary associations. He was also involved in the Missouri State 4-H Foundation, the Missouri Symphony Society and Daniel Boone Little League. He was a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and a charter member of Hickman High FFA.

Dr. Horton is survived by his wife, Margaret Thomson; his daughter, Anne Tallmage, and her husband, Allan, of Columbia; his son, Jim, and his wife, Tracey, of Columbia; his stepson Michael Thomson, and his wife, Linda, of St. Louis; his stepson Jeffrey Thomson, and his wife, Cheryl, of Columbia; his stepdaughter, Kathy Chechik, and her husband, Marc, of St. Louis; his sister, Earlene Holman, and her husband Jerry, of Abilene, Texas, and ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be at 4 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. Services will at 10 a.m. Monday at the same location. A private burial will follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Columbia FFA Trust at P.O. Box 480, Jefferson City, MO 65102 or the Missouri 4-H Foundation, 1110 S. College Ave., Room 152, Columbia, MO 65211.

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