David Alan Horner, farmer, meteorologist, and former Boone County Commissioner, died Friday, August 12, 2022. Dave was a kind and gentle man for all seasons, a community servant, storyteller extraordinaire, and steward of the earth, a man of excessive character.
Born June 21, 1921 in St. Louis, Missouri, the youngest of four sons of Elinor Alice Hall and Wesley Winans Horner, David graduated from high school at John Burroughs School in 1938 at the age of 16 years old. During his youth, he spent summers in Crawford County along the Meramec River with his family. There he courted his future wife, Winifred Bryan, from the ages of three and four. Dave lived there alone for a year after high school where he developed an interest in agriculture and a love of animals that would last a lifetime. He once said that the agricultural techniques then employed had not changed much since Bible times. How would farming practices change during his long life. His affinity for animals, domestic and wild, will be a common thread throughout his life.
Returning to St. Louis from his time in the Ozarks, he attended Washington University for two years before transferring to the University of Illinois to study agricultural engineering. Dave received the Bronze Tablet award for being in the top percent of his senior class before his studies were interrupted by World War II. He enrolled in an intensive meteorological training program in February 1943 and served as a forecaster in the Army Air Corps, which was the precursor to the Air Force. Winifred and David were married in June 1943 and moved to various military installations in Illinois, Michigan, and Kansas.
Leaving the Army, Dave and Win purchased their first farm in June 1946 in the hills above the Missouri River near Huntsdale in Boone County. Dave enrolled at the University of Missouri and graduated in agricultural engineering in 1947. Their first two children, Win and Richard, were born on this farm in 1949 and 1951, and Dave and Win were actively involved in the community service as well as in agriculture. full time. Over the next few years, they would move twice to rented farms in search of better ground. In 1954, they purchased 245 acres that would become the heart of the family farm southeast of Columbia for the rest of Dave’s life, Sugar Grove Farm. Two more children, Beth and David, Jr., arrived in 1953 and 1956.
In the early 1950s, students in grades 1 through 8 in rural Boone County were still taught by a single teacher in one-room schools. Dave and Win worked tirelessly to establish the Consolidated Rural District and Missouri’s first integrated school, New Haven R2 Elementary. A disastrous drought in the summer of 1954 prompted the young farmer to seek employment in town, and he began a career with the National Weather Service at its facility at Columbia Airport in 1955. This drought had strangled the entire crop of corn in which Dave had invested. and it was the only time in his life that he saw grasshoppers eating the leaves of the trees, leaving them bare in the middle of summer.
He and Winifred moved the family to Colombia in 1961, but Dave continued farming while working full time for the weather service. When the youngest was four, Win began what was to be a successful college career. With Dave’s constant support in her professional life, she eventually earned a doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1975 and, among many honors, served as the Radford Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at Texas Christian University for twelve years. , shuttling between Columbia and Fort Worth. , Texas. She predeceased him in 2014 after nearly 71 years of marriage (Winifred Bryan Horner-Columbia Missourian obituary). Dave, meanwhile, expanded his farming operation to 850 acres and, retiring from the Weather Bureau in 1981, devoted himself entirely to farming and community service. To say the 1980s were tough for farmers would be a huge understatement. Crop prices fell sharply and farmland values halved. It was a tough time, but Dave pulled through and in the 2000s he turned his acreage entirely into a ranching operation, focusing primarily on cattle. At the same time, he became more and more involved in the public service.
After serving several years on the county’s Planning and Zoning Appeals Board and as a member of a commission set up to review and report on the state of county facilities, Dave served on the Boone County from 1985 to 1988. At the time, it was considered a part-time job, but it was nothing like that. In addition to looking after the county’s day-to-day operations, he helped lead the county through some major transitions. The ‘new’ courthouse and jail, now thirty years old, were designed under his direction after he fought to pass the bond issue to finance them. Much of his time and effort was devoted to the essential modernization of facilities at Boone County Hospital.
When he retired from the Commission, he was invited to serve on the hospital’s board of directors, where he spent countless hours protecting Boone County and its hospital during its negotiations with the BJC medical group. Seeing the need for future growth in Columbia and the county, he also worked to acquire land to expand the hospital’s outpatient clinics on East Broadway and Nifong Boulevard. During his long life, David Horner served on many community boards, including the Planned Parenthood Council of Central Missouri for six years, the Vestry of Calvary Episcopal Church, the Rotary Club of Northwest Columbia, and forty-three years in board of directors. of Columbia Cemetery.
Dave retired from farming in 2019 at the age of 98. For his last nine years he resided at Tiger Place in Colombia. There he leaves behind many dear friends who love and miss him dearly. He lived a good life and a long life, but for those who knew and loved him, 101 years was not enough.
David Horner is survived by daughter Win Grace of Boone County, son Richard L. Horner of Durham, NC, daughter Beth Horner and partner Ron of Evanston, IL, and son David A. Horner, Jr. and his wife Merrill of Columbia. He is also survived by his seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren: Leela Grace Barr and her husband Seth (their children Arizona and Afton), Ellie Grace and his wife Ami (their child Milo), Gabriel Horner and his wife Andrea (their children Leo and Maya), Wesley Horner, Miski Horner and her partner Andrew, Alexandria Horner Olive and her husband Ben, and John Frederic Horner.
A celebration of Dave’s life will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 10 at the Boone County History and Culture Center, 3801 Ponderosa Street, Columbia.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made in Dave’s name to: The Columbia Cemetery Association (The Columbia Cemetery Association), Humanity for Children (For Ivy’s House–Humanity for Children) or Planned Parenthood of Great Plains (Planned Parenthood Great Plains).
Photo of Dave Horner by LG Patterson
Posted on August 24, 2022
Published in the Columbia Daily Tribune
celebration of life
Boone County History and Culture Center 3801 Ponderosa Street, Columbia MO 65201
September 10, 2022 at 15:00