Bill Horton of Southington was an accomplished electrician and electrical contractor, who wore too many hats around Trumbull County to list. He died last week after giving us his all for 80 good years. God blessed him greatly and in turn he blessed as many around him as he possibly could. May God inspire many a wise retiree reading this column to attempt to fill his shoes. Again, a mere 700-word column cannot begin to tell all of the good Bill has done, so I will focus primarily on Bill's sense of community and I will begin at its root:
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6: 19-21
Bill's long-time friend and Trumbull 100 member, Shelley Taylor, summed up the extent of his treasures in heaven, "Almost every (community) service organization in this area has received some help from Bill in one way or another." Therefore, in honor of Bill's community service I am calling out all local retirees with eons of practical experience and knowledge to volunteer in their communities with all the vim and vigor of youth. I promise you, even in his late 70s, Bill could work circles around most 20 year old men!
Last year, at quite the capable age of 79, Bill vigorously dug up and replaced the old sprinkler system at The Women's Park in Warren with a friend while I was cleaning out the pond. Since my smaller job was done before his, I approached him to chat for a minute before I left. Not being one for idling, Bill continued working hard even as he carried on a friendly conversation with me. He had installed the previous system years earlier and simply wanted to update it because that's the type of thing a stand-up, can-do 79 year old fellow does in his spare time.
So I was not at all surprised to read the wonderful tribute to Bill from his local community in Southington honoring him for his enthusiastic community service there. Personally, however, I had only known Bill from volunteering side-by-side with him on numerous community projects in downtown Warren. I should have suspected he was a volunteer with multiple organizations in Southington, among other local communities, but he never tooted his own horn. It is doubtful any of us, including his faithful partner and wife Beverly, could possibly fathom the sum total of his treasures stored up in heaven.
Nevertheless, I won't shed a tear for this great man because Bill was as humble and no-nonsense a man as one could ever meet. To honor Bill, when I volunteer on future projects, I will keep his enthusiasm in my chest. And I'll do my best to remember how Bill's genuine enthusiasm never cast a shadow over other volunteers; rather, it infectiously drew them and lifted them up.
I carefully chose the word "enthusiasm" to represent Bill's service among us not only because it describes a hard worker but primarily because the root words collectively mean "God's spirit is in you". Bill chose to walk his Christian life in service to others with a tireless commitment. This man was no big talker, but his enormous walk in community service spoke volumes in testimony to his faith so that all could receive an inspired message.
For example, if you have driven through Warren this summer, you probably appreciated the huge hanging flower baskets. If you are a skeptic and a critic, you may have wondered, "How can a cash-strapped city afford such luxurious flower baskets during a recession?" The truth is these baskets are an annual gift from one of Bill's many service organizations, Trumbull 100. The gift has been made possible under the watchful eye of their incredibly capable project manager, none other than Bill Horton.
However generous Bill was not a pushover, according to Pat Fuller, who you may have seen driving her "gator" downtown watering flowers- also paid for by Trumbull 100. "He was an old curmudgeon; at first I was really afraid of him but he turned out to be the most loving guy-he was my champion."
Fuller gave an example, "Just this spring, one day before his (scheduled) open-heart surgery (valve replacement), the watering pump on the gator broke, and somehow Bill found time to come down and install a new pump." Still recovering, a few weeks later, he stopped by to see how the pump was working. He didn't like what Fuller showed him, so the very next day, he replaced it again. Fuller's tone was bittersweet, "That's the kind of guy he was, but more than anything, he was kind. He was so kind."
Just a week and a half ago; Bill received an urgent call from a long-time friend, Kay Fisher of The Upton Association, who informed him the electric pump that runs the stream at the Women's park wasn't working on the eve of their big celebration: Women's Equality Day. "Of course Bill came right down and saved the day again! Can you believe that?" With a smile I replied, "Yes-he loved life and he loved people" to which Fisher wisely concluded, "And he must have loved his Lord the way he conducted his life."
Herman is a Howland resident.