HORN, Charles

HORN, Charles Frederick "Chuck"

Known for his many years of public service as Kettering Mayor, Montgomery County Commissioner, and Ohio State Senator, died on Saturday, December 3 in West Chester, OH. He was 98.

Born July 20, 1924, Chuck grew up on a farm near Bellefontaine, Ohio, in Logan County. His natural communication skills manifested as he played lead roles in high school theatrical productions. He ventured out into the world early, working as a cook on a railroad crew.

When America went to war, Chuck was among the first to enlist. He took advantage of every opportunity that adverse situation could offer. As a Radio Man, he began to learn the technical skills that would lead, with the help of the GI Bill, to an Electrical Engineering Degree from Purdue University. If traveling East Central Ohio didn't satisfy his wanderlust and any wish for adventure, flying over The Hump between assignments in India and China with the richly acclaimed Flying Tigers should have.

Chuck Horn was honorably discharged in November of 1946. He graduated from Purdue in 1949. It was during these years he met and befriended future Mercury Astronaut Gus Grissom. They remained good friends until the Lt. Colonel gave his life for America on the Apollo 1 tarmac in 1967.

After Purdue, he began work for Westinghouse in their Graduate Student Training program. By 1950 he was handling sales for the Cleveland steel mill accounts. Moving up into management he honed the communication skills that would serve him and his community so well. During this period, he began night school at Cleveland Marshall Law School.

In 1952, he was introduced to elementary school teacher, Shirley Farnsworth, by his future first law partner. On August 1, 1953, they were married in Dayton, Ohio. He graduated from Law School in 1954 and they settled in Lakewood, Ohio, where Holly, 1955, and Charles J., 1957, were born. In 1960 the family moved to Kettering, Ohio, where Chuck put out his shingle in his first law office. The family welcomed daughter Heidi the same year.

In 1963 Chuck ran for Kettering City Council and won. He went on to serve 6 years on City Council and 11 years as Mayor of Kettering. During this period, he imparted his love of physical fitness and the outdoors, and in particular cycling. He brought the Tour of Kettering bicycle race to Holiday at Home. As early as 1974 Chuck was making speeches advocating the regional bikeway system that would come to make the Miami Valley the envy of the region.

He loved to travel, believing that travel broadens our perspectives personally, culturally, and politically. He took his family on numerous educational trips and participated in a bicycle tour of the Dordogne region of France. Chuck established Sister City Programs with both Kettering, England and Steyr, Austria.

From his experience on the farm, Chuck had a strong respect for the earth and growing things. An avid gardener, he would make the marigold Kettering's city flower. His leaf mulching program, turning potential land fill waste into recycled fertilizer and bedding, has brought immeasurable value to the citizens of Kettering.

Throughout his "part time" service, Chuck maintained a thriving law practice. He worked with numerous technological businesses that dovetailed with his technical background.

In 1980 Chuck decided to take his management skills to the Montgomery County Commission. He was elected the sole Republican on a Commission of 3 and quickly demonstrated his ability to reach across the aisle to get things done. During this period, he set up regional cooperation organizations. These groups gave individual municipalities more control over, and lower costs for, the new, rapidly expanding Cable Television industry.

By 1984 Chuck was getting national attention for his work on the Inter-Governmental Science, Engineering and Technology Advisory Panel. He served for six years under Presidential appointment during both the Ford and Carter administrations. He was also recognized for his work with the National League of Cities. It was no surprise when he was recruited to run for the Ohio 6th Senate District. He went on to serve 3 more Senate terms until his retirement from public office in 2000. While in the Ohio State Senate, he inspired bipartisan cooperation. In 1987, he was acclaimed by both sides for his response to the 1987 Federal change to the Assistance for Dependent Children program. Chuck led the Senate to mitigate the effects of that reform. He promoted the extension of medical benefits and day care assistance to make the transition to work less draconian. Ohio's program served as a model for the Federal reform which President Clinton would sign 8 years later.

Chuck was a certified political maverick. In 1988, when Jim Rhodes was seeking another term as Governor against Dick Celeste, Chuck joined Senate President Paul Gilmore to barnstorm the state and challenge Jim Rhodes, Chuck as Lt. Governor candidate. While they lost the primary (Chuck never lost a general election) they created tremendous good will for Republican candidates. When John McCain ran against George W. Bush in the year 2000, he chose Chuck to be his regional campaign coordinator.

Chuck practiced law into his early 90's. He continued to make speaking engagements, travel, win Blue Ribbons for his dahlias, and bicycle with his grandchildren, Alex and Allison, whom he loved with all his heart.

Chuck Horn leaves a legacy of inspiration in the people he has touched who have continued his traditions of conservation, broad perspective and hope.

Chuck is survived by his wife, Shirley Elaine Horn; two of their three children: Holly E. Horn (Benjamin Maucere) and Charles J. Horn (Caroline) and two grandchildren: Charles A. Horn and Alison E. Horn; nephews: James D. Beach, Charles J. Beach, John G. Beach, Joseph H. Beach, Jerry M. Beach; cousin Peggy A. Steig; and grandneice Kim A. Hall.

A Memorial Service will be held 10:00 am Thursday, January 12 at David's United Church of Christ, 170 W. David Road, Kettering, Ohio.

Donations may be made to: Camp Kern, by phone 513-932-3756 or mail a check to YMCA Camp Kern, 5291 State Route 350, Oregonia, OH 45054.

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