Horner, former sports editor, dies at 97

Feb. 01, 2013 @ 09:20 PM

Jack Horner, the sports editor of the Durham Morning Herald from 1944-68, passed away Thursday from kidney disease at age of 97.
James Thomas “Jack” Horner Sr. wrote a popular column, “Jack Horner’s Sports Corner,” and was voted the N.C. Sportswriter of the Year in 1967 by the National Association of Broadcasters and Sportswriters.
Alex Crockett was an assistant sports editor under Horner for six years, and then succeeded him when Horner resigned to become the first executive director of the Carolinas Section of the PGA.
“All the coaches respected him and looked forward to his analysis,” Crockett said. “He was a good reporter, a good writer and just a real credit to the paper and the community.”
Bucky Waters, who played basketball at N.C. State and coached at Duke during Horner’s tenure at the paper, said that Horner oversaw the area’s transition from football country to basketball country and was an important voice during a time when people relied on newspapers as the primary source of information.
“This was a day without all the talk shows, and people were really depending on that sports page in the morning,” Waters said. “He was really an icon.”
A native of Fayetteville, where he attended Fayetteville High School, Horner is survived by his son Tom, his daughter Donna Riley, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
Riley said that Horner first became involved with newspapers when he sold them on the streets of Fayetteville for a nickel in order to buy food for his mother and his four siblings.
After learning to type at National Business College in Charlotte, Horner covered local sports for the Burlington Times News and was the sports editor of the Greensboro Daily News before heading to Durham. Besides working at the Morning Herald, he wrote a monthly column in Southern Coach and Athlete and covered ACC and Southern Conference football for Street and Smith magazine.
He also was the official scorer for the Durham Bulls for 24 seasons and held various roles in the Carolinas PGA until he retired in 1985.
Though he suffered from dementia, Riley said that Horner watched all the Duke games and read the sports section up until four days before he died.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday at Duke’s Chapel United Methodist Church. A private burial will follow in Maplewood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Duke’s Chapel UMC, 805 Old Oxford Road, Durham, 27704, or Duke Homecare & Hospice, 4321 Medical Park Drive, Suite 101, Durham, 27704.
According to Durham author Lewis Bowling, this is how Horner ended his final column for the Morning Herald:
“Although there’s a touch of sadness in our hearts as we reach the close of a 32-year career in the newspapering field, the last 23 as sports editor of your favorite morning journal, the Durham Morning Herald, we don’t want anyone shedding tears over our departure. We’ve had a lot of fun and enjoyed serving you.”