Deacon Gary Horton, one of the earliest permanent deacons to serve the former Diocese of Juneau, died on May 16, 2022. He was 85 years old.
A funeral Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Andrew Bellisario, C.M., at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Juneau on June 8. Deacon Horton was interred at the columbarium at the National Shrine of St. Therese.
Horton was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 3, 1936, to David Ambrose and Maybelle Bernice Horton. His family moved to the Seattle area, where his siblings Marsha, Veronica, Jacqueline, and David Jr. were born. The family moved to Juneau, Alaska, in 1946, where they established Horton’s Hardware at Auke Bay the following year.
Deacon Horton served time in the Alaska Air National Guard and the Alaska Army National Guard. He also worked for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. After retiring from the state, he drove a tour bus for Mendenhall Glacier Tours for 11 years.
Deacon Horton was ordained as a permanent deacon on Sept. 24, 1980, by Bishop Michael Kenny, and served at both the Co-Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Paul the Apostle parishes in Juneau.
Throughout his ministry, Deacon Horton was involved in religious education, Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, pastoral visits to the sick, and celebrating baptisms, weddings, and funerals. He participated in Our Lady of the Rosary Prayer Group.
He also served the former diocese through his work in the chancery office as director of the deacon program, archivist, special collections, and stewardship coordinator. Deacon Horton was also the bishop’s representative on the St. Vincent de Paul board of directors, where he served as a spiritual advisor.
Deacon Horton’s Catholic faith was the foundation of his life. He and his wife, Mary, were a team and were often involved in ministry together. He loved being a part of people’s lives. He liked marrying couples and baptizing babies and bringing people into the church. A natural storyteller, he liked telling people about salvation history and why it’s important to include God in your life.
Deacon Horton retired from active ministry in the Diaconate in 2012 after serving Bishop Michael Kenny, Bishop Michael Warfel, and Bishop Edward Burns.
He is survived by his wife Mary of 60 years; his son Damian Gary, and partner Mark Mertz; sister Jacqueline Crane, and children of Spokane, Washington; brother David Ambrose Horton Jr., wife Karen, and children of North Dakota; his grandchildren; and a great-grandchild. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Horton was preceded in death by his daughter, Cheryle Ann Paine; his parents; sisters, Adrienne Horton, Marsha Ramsey, Veronica Withrow; and brother Michael Horton.