John Robert Horton Sr., 85, died September 22, 2020 at his home at Mill Rock Farms in Brooks County, Georgia. Graveside services will be held at 10 AM Saturday, September 26 at Oak Hill Cemetery in Quitman, with Rev. Ken Myers officiating. The family will receive visitors on Friday, September 25 from 5 PM to 7 PM at the family home at 8355 Old Madison Rd. Maxwell Purvis Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
John was born August 28,1935 in Hollow Rock, Tennessee, son of the late Robert and Willie Mae Horton. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Betty Knight Horton, a native of Quitman, and brother-in-law Jim Knight.
John earned his BA in English and History at Lambeth College in Jackson, TN, followed by a Master of Divinity from Emory University. He completed additional post-graduate degrees, certifications, and courses in education and administration from the University of Georgia, VSU, FSU, and Georgia State University.
Describing himself as a Tennessean by birth but a Georgian by choice, John worked 38 years in the field of education in Brooks County as teacher, coach, principal and county school superintendent.
He was a member of the Quitman United Methodist Church, teaching Sunday School for 37 years and singing in the choir for most of his active years there.
John loved his community, serving as president of the Brooks County Historical Society and the Brooks County Airport Authority. He was also a member of the Rotary Club and the Quitman Brooks County Museum and Cultural Center. As superintendent of Schools in Brooks County, John spearheaded the construction of two new elementary schools and a middle school. He also worked to build a community canning plant and tennis complex with a walking track for public use.
John will be remembered as a kind, generous hearted man who cared deeply for his family and community. He enjoyed fishing, farming, and hunting. He particularly enjoyed farming with crops and livestock. Horses were always a great love of his. He also loved being on a tractor and when he wasn’t planting crops or cutting hay, he could be seen on his tractor pulling a float in a parade. He also adored Brittany Spaniels - raising, training and hunting with them along with his dear friend Larry Kent. John’s two well loved Yorkie Poos Buster and Buddy stayed by his side until his last day and will miss him greatly.
John loved the Brooks County soil and grew sunflowers and corn to feed the wildlife, and quietly helped out people who were in need. He wrote several books, played the electric organ and composed lyrics for music. John enjoyed playing the guitar and banjo but never achieved country music fame. He loved country music and always had it playing on his truck or tractor. He passed away with it playing at his side.
John enjoyed hosting get-togethers and cookouts. He was an expert at making yeast rolls and traditional slow-cooked southern barbecue at his son's restaurant, Wiregrass, in Quitman. Many friends enjoyed his hospitality and kindness. He and Betty were ardent GA Bulldog fans, and loved attending games.
Son John Jr. also recalls, “He also rode a tractor til 1 am some mornings making extra money as a truck farmer when James and I were growing up. On certain days of the year he would make handmade biscuits for 1200 kids at Quitman Elementary and Middle School next door that ate in our lunchroom. A very special individual in many ways.”
Survivors include sons John Horton Jr. (Pam) and James Horton (Dr. Jamie Holland) of Quitman; brothers Curtis Horton, Charles Horton (Dixie) and David Horton (Laurie); Sister-in-law Carol Knight Jordan (Bob), cousin Taylor Knight (Dr. Lyle Renodin) and lots of nieces and nephews; Deyner and Onie Ramirez and family, and his beloved pups Buster and Buddy.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to Betty Jean Patterson, Tammie White, Deyner Ramirez, Onie Morales, Johnnie Parker and Tae Dennard who loved and cared for John daily until the end.
Also, the family gives a special thank you to all other caretakers and friends who worked with John or helped him during his illness.
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