November 21, 1927 - December 13, 2019
Jim died peacefully at his home in Bend, Oregon, on December 13, 2019.
Born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to Myrtle and Melvin Horton, Jim was their first child. Two years later sister Fay was born. Jim and Fay grew up and attended public schools in Oshkosh, until Melvin’s job with ADT saw them moving to Tacoma, Washington, in 1942. The family moved across the country by train enjoying the fancy food and sleeper car. Jim earned pocket money working for ADT testing company fire and burglar systems. Once again Melvin’s job moved the family, this time to Temple City in southern California.
Jim enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1946; asking for a Caribbean assignment he was instead stationed in Alaska as a weather technician. He helped do important research on the jet stream because he figured out how to make the weather balloons go higher than anyone else before him.
Jim completed his service in February, 1949, ranked as staff sergeant. He enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, that June. He joined the Alpha Zeta fraternity, FFA, Blue Shield, and 4-H club. He graduated in 1952, with a bachelor’s degree in agronomy. Jim continued his higher education graduating with a PhD in plant pathology in June of 1956.
In August, 1952, Jim married Nancy Erickson in Madison, where they started their family.
July of 1956 saw the family moving to Ames, Iowa, where Jim took a position as an assistant professor at Iowa State University. The diseases of potatoes and onions were the focus of his research there.
Jim and his family moved to Bakersfield, California, in July of 1970, where Jim had been hired as head of the biology department in the new school, California State University Bakersfield. In 1980, Jim became the dean of lower division studies. He took early retirement in 1984, but returned to teach one quarter per year until 1999.
Jim also taught summer science camps through the Kern Environmental Education Program (Camp KEEP) at various location throughout central California. Teaching was Jim’s passion.
Jim advised staff at Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History (California) during its renovation on the accuracy of the science being presented in the new exhibits. Nancy Dreher was assigned to the museum as the new curator/volunteer coordinator in late 2002. Jim and Nancy saw eye to eye on so many levels that they decide it would behoove them to get married. They moved to Bend in 2004, after Nancy’s retirement and were married in the spring of 2005.
Jim was an active member in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and
volunteered at The High Desert Museum in its living history program.
Jim loved growing vegetables and built a number of raised beds and a greenhouse on his property. HE was an avid reader and volunteered as long as he was able at the Eastside Bend public library. When snow nixed the garden you could find Jim tackling jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, studying his computer, or cooking delicious meals.
His sharp intelligence, wit, generosity, and kindness were a pleasure to behold. His smile could light up a room. Jim will be fiercely missed by all who knew him.
Jim was preceded in death by his first wife. He is survived by his second wife Nancy, four adult children, several grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The High Desert Museum as a memorial to Jim Horton.