Frank Jefferson Horton
Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army
Member of Congress
N.Y. Representative Frank Horton
By Matt Schudel
Frank Jefferson Horton, a liberal Republican who sought bipartisan cooperation in his 30 years in the House of Representatives, died Aug. 30 of a stroke at his home in Bentonville, Virginia. He was 84.
Representing a district in Upstate New York, Mr. Horton sponsored the Whistle Blower Protection Act of 1990, which was designed to protect federal workers exposing government fraud and waste. He was also a friend of the District of Columbia, sponsoring a bill in 1965 to grant limited home rule, including a nonvoting member of the House. The Home Rule Act, which allowed the District to elect its own officials for the first time, was passed in 1973.
Elected as a mainstream Republican during the Kennedy administration, Mr. Horton increasingly found himself out of step with his party, which grew more conservative during his time in the House. By 1990, he was voting against the Republican administration of President George H.W. Bush as much as 65 percent of the time.
Mr. Horton was easily elected to 15 consecutive terms from a district that included parts of Rochester and suburban and rural areas even after he was jailed for drunken driving in 1976. He was the ranking Republican on the Government Operations Committee, and he served on the Post Office and Civil Service Committee.
As a former executive of the Rochester Red Wings, a minor league baseball franchise in his home town, Mr. Horton also argued as early as 1971 that Washington deserved a major league baseball team.
Mr. Horton was born in Cuero, Texas, and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After graduating from Louisiana State University, he served in North Africa and Italy with the Army in World War II, reaching the rank of Major. He received his law degree from Cornell University in 1947 and settled in Rochester, where he practiced law until 1962.
He was co-owner of a boys' camp in Canada and president of the Red Wings from 1957 to 1963. He also was an executive and attorney with the International League, with which the Red Wings were affiliated.
He served on the Rochester City Council from 1955 to 1961 and was elected to the House in 1962. During his three-decade tenure, Mr. Horton was known as a backroom dealmaker, often arranging for people from his state to be placed on influential committees. In his final term, he was named head of the New York delegation, even though he was one of only 13 Republicans among his state's 33 House members.
After leading an inquiry that studied 36 reports and 770 recommendations on excessive government paperwork, Mr. Horton, apparently without irony, proposed the Paperwork Reduction Act, which was passed in 1980. He led an effort in 1988 to have federal agencies adopt an office of inspector general, which he said could save the government billions of dollars. He also sought, unsuccessfully, to have the Environmental Protection Agency made a Cabinet department.
Teaming with then-Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colorado), he introduced the Whistle Blower Protection Act in 1987. It was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan. Denouncing the veto by his own party's president as a "reprehensible act," Mr. Horton reintroduced the bill in 1989. It was enacted in 1990.
In July 1976, after a six-mile car chase that reached speeds of 105 mph, Mr. Horton was arrested in New York for drunken driving. Two women, neither of whom was his wife, were with him at the time. He served 11 days in jail. The following November, he was reelected with 66 percent of the vote.
On April 9, 1992, he released a General Accounting Office report stating that taxpayers spent $150 million for federal officials to fly on Air Force planes. The next day, he and his second wife -- one of the women in his car in 1976 -- flew on an Air Force jet to Florida for a meeting with Canadian legislators.
He decided to retire when his district was merged in 1992 with a district represented by Louise M. Slaughter (D).
His marriage to Marjorie Wilcox Horton ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Nancy Flood Horton,
and two sons from his first marriage, Frank Horton Jr. and Steven Horton.
Former Congressman Frank J. Horton listened to the concerns of his constituents and helped people find their way through the federal government. It was that ability, longtime local politicians say, that made him enormously popular.
Mr. Horton was one of Monroe County's most enduring politicians. Constituents elected him to Congress 15 times.
He died Monday at the age of 84. He had suffered a massive stroke on Thursday at his home in rural Virginia.
"I'll tell you one thing about Frank, he never looked for things for Frank Horton," said David A. Lovenheim, who was Horton's chief of staff from 1967 to 1978 and a staff member for 13 years. "The man had his income from Congress, he had his house, he had one share of Xerox stock and one share of Kodak stock and 10 shares of Rochester Community Baseball stock.
"If you wanted to know where he lived politically, he was always more comfortable with working people than he was the extremely wealthy or big business people."
Mr. Horton — a Republican who represented much of Monroe County as well as Cayuga, Oswego, Seneca and Wayne counties — served for 30 years in the House. He was a politician who was comfortable on both sides of the aisle.
At the time of his death, Mr. Horton and his wife, Nancy, were living in a small Virginia town south of Front Royal. Their house was in the mountains and surrounded by trees and wildlife. Nancy Horton said that her husband's health had been deteriorating in the past year. But he loved his house and the time he spent with family there.
"It's a fantastic life. ... Frank and I were both in agreement that the day you're born you start to die and you better live well in between," said his wife of more than 20 years. "It has been wonderful."
Mr. Horton was the son of a railroad worker. He was born in Cuero, Texas, in 1919 and moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his family at age 7. He graduated from Louisiana State University before joining the U.S. Army before the outbreak of World War II.
During the war, he was wounded in the invasion of North Africa and spent two years in Italy.
His path to Rochester started during the war. He met his first wife, Marjorie, a nurse, while being treated at a hospital in Italy. She was from western New York and after the war he decided to attend law school at Cornell University to be close to his wife's family. A Rochester law firm hired him after graduation. The couple had two sons before they were divorced.
Mr. Horton served on the Rochester City Council from 1955 until 1961 — a period when Republicans controlled the city. He was elected to Congress in 1962, representing parts of the city, Brighton, Penfield and Webster in Monroe County.
He retired in 1992 and was the last Republican from Monroe County to serve in Congress.
Mr. Horton was known for funneling federal dollars to the Rochester area, including to the University of Rochester and the Women's Rights Historical Park in Seneca Falls.
Richard Rosenbaum, a former GOP gubernatorial candidate and former owner of Lawyers Publishing Corp., said Mr. Horton once flew from Washington, D.C., in nasty winter weather to be the keynote speaker for the launch of his campaign.
"It was really a remarkable effort on his part," said Rosenbaum, a former Monroe County and state Republican chairman. "You could almost say he was compulsive in his wish to serve his constituents."
Monroe County GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik III said "he was one of the more popular public officials that we ever had in the community."
As a Republican, Mr. Horton was in the House minority for his entire career. Also during his entire congressional career, he served on the Governmental Operations Committee — which had oversight of policy and government efficiency. It was not a plum position, but on that committee he helped craft legislation to assist agencies in cutting waste, fraud and abuse. He also helped expand the Cabinet to 14 positions from eight.
He was instrumental in placing inspectors general in federal departments and passing the 1989 Whistleblowers Protection Act. Mr. Horton was a founder and former co-chairman of the Northeast-Midwest coalition, which fought for more favorable federal treatment for aging industrial cities.
"He was fair and independent," said Lovenheim. "He was not somebody who followed anybody's party line. He thought through every issue he faced in Congress and in his life, for himself."
Representative Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, was his friend for many years. He retired from Congress when faced with the possibility of running against her in 1992 after redistricting placed the two in the same district.
"I valued his advice and friendship," Slaughter said. "He was a man of integrity and I use that in the absolute strongest sense."
Nancy Horton said Slaughter returned her husband's favor Monday by helping secure a burial plot at Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington had denied Nancy Horton's request for burial Monday, she said. She called Slaughter and within 15 minutes the cemetery called back to confirm a burial date, she said.
"Frank's dearest hope and dream was to be buried at Arlington and the space is so limited," Horton said, adding that he will be buried in his uniform.
Visitation will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday
at Turner-Robert Shaw Funeral Home, Front Royal, Va. Funeral services will
be 11 a.m., Sept. 29, at Fort Myer Chapel in Fort Myer, Virginia.
Former Congressman Frank J. Horton, who represented much of the Finger Lakes region for 30 years, died Monday at the age of 84 in Winchester, Virginia.
From 1983 through his retirement at the end of 1992, Horton’s district included all of Seneca, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego counties and parts of Monroe and Oneida counties. Before a 1983 redistricting, it included Monroe County east of the Genesee River and all of Wayne County.
Horton began his 30 years in Congress with the Cuban missile crisis and ended it with agreements between the United States and Russia to destroy nuclear weapons. In between, he had a front-row seat to history in the making, including the civil rights movement, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the race to the moon, Watergate, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Soviet Union.
He co-authored a 1967 book, “How to End the Draft: The Case for an All-Volunteer Army,” that helped lay the foundation for the modern professional military.
For 10 years after retiring, he worked with Venable, Baetjer, Howard and Civilleti Law Offices.
Horton was born Dec. 12, 1919, in Cuero, Texas. He received a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University in 1941 and a law degree from Cornell University in 1947. He was also a World War II veteran, having fought in North Africa and Italy as a second lieutenant with the Army. He began his political career on the Rochester City Council.
Ontario County Republican Committee Chairman Rick Herman knew Horton for many years, as his father helped Horton on his early campaigns and Herman later lived in the same Rochester neighborhood as the congressman.
“A great, great guy. I was saddened to hear of his passing,” Herman said.
Herman said Horton was a great role model for him when he was starting out.
“He was a guy who really knew politics. He never forgot his local base,” Herman said, adding that Horton understood and always remembered the importance of serving, helping and protecting the people he served.
Shortly before retiring, Horton told the Times he enjoyed serving the people and always signed his letters personally.
“I learned this from my father, who treasured letters he received from Louisiana Congressman Morris Shephard. I made a resolution that I would always sign all of my mail.”
Horton’s congressional duties included being vice chairperson of the House Government Operations Committee, chairing the New York Bi-Partisan Delegation and serving on the Post Office and Civic Service Committee and the Commission on Federal Paperwork. He co-founded the Northeast-Midwest Coalition and was regarded as the dean of the state’s delegation because of his many years of service.
“Frank Horton was a hard-working, compassionate public servant, deeply committed to his community and those he represented,” said Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-27 of Clarence. “His 30 years of public service set a great example. He will be missed not only by the Rochester community, but all those whose lives he touched.”
Horton was also highly regarded for his ability to work with colleagues from other parties, even earning the cross-endorsement of the Democratic Party at times.
“He was a prince of a man — non-partisan, friendly to all, and hardworking for New York,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat.
Rep. Jim Walsh, R-25 of Syracuse, was also saddened by the news.
“He was a gentleman, a humble statesman and decorated veteran, and a good friend,” Walsh wrote in a press release. “Just after my election to Congress in 1988, Mr. Horton — then the Republican dean of the New York delegation — welcomed me to the House of Representatives with open arms and offered guidance and advice [that] I still follow to this day ....
“My thoughts and prayers go out today to his
wife, Nancy, and their sons and families. We join with them in saluting
this great man as preparations are made for him to take his deserved place
at Arlington National Cemetery.”
Former congressman Frank Horton, who represented the region in the House of Representatives for 30 years, died Monday at his home in Virginia. He was 84.
Representative Horton retired in 1993 when his district was redrawn rather than seek re-election against incumbent Representative Louise Slaughter, D-Perinton.
Before his election to Congress, Representative Horton was a member of the Rochester City Council from 1955 to 1961. He was president of Rochester Community Baseball Inc. from 1956 to 1961, and was executive vice president of the International Baseball League from 1959 to 1961, also serving as attorney for the league.
Born in Texas and raised in Louisiana, Representative
Horton graduated from law school at Cornell University, was admitted to
the New York bar in 1947 and began his practice in Rochester.
Horton was 84 years old.
The lawmaker from Penfield was first elected in 1962. He retired in 1992.
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports that Horton suffered a massive stroke at his home in Bentonville, Virginia.
Funeral services are scheduled September 29th
at Fort Myer, Virginia, with burial to follow at Arlington National Cemetery.
FRANK J. HORTON, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army, 84, of 313 Seven Oaks, Bentonville, Virginia, died Monday, August 30, 2004 at Winchester Medical Center, Winchester.
A funeral service will be held at Fort Myer Chapel on September 29, 2004 at 11 a.m. Burial will follow in Arlington National Cemetery.
Mr. Horton was born December 12, 1919 in Cuero, Texas, the son of the late Frank J. and Mary R. Hathcox Horton. He was a veteran of World War II serving in the United States Army. He was retired from the United States Congress serving from 1962 until 1992. He retired from Venable, Baetjer, Howard and Civilleti Law Offices in 2002.
Mr. Horton is survived by his wife, Nancy Horton; four sons, Frank J. Horton and wife, Karen of Lorton, Virginia, Steven Horton and wife, Ann of Seattle, Washington, Christopher Flood and wife, Beth of Aldie, Virginia, David Flood and wife, Iva of Rochester, New York, four granddaughters, Susan L. Horton, Lindsay M. Horton, Elizabeth Tobola and Hunter Flood; two grandsons, Russell Horton and James Flood; two cousins, Geneva, Mrs. Donald Bailey; Mildred, Mrs. Charles Kreziensky.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions
may be made to the charity of your choice.
Contributed By Bob Greene
R.W. Frank J. Horton
R. W. Brother Horton served as the Worshipful Master of Seneca Lodge in 1962, after which he was designated as the Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Ohio near the Grand Lodge of New York, an honorarium that he had for nearly thirty years.
In 1965, he was coroneted a 33º Sovereign Grand Inspector General,Honorary Member of Supreme Council. Many Seneca Lodge members were at Grand Lodge in New York in 1987 when Frank received the Grand Lodge Distinguished Achievement Medal in recognition of his thirty years as a member of the Congress of the United States as well as his service to our Craft.
He was the founding President of the Masonic Service Bureau of Rochester, New York in the early 1960’s and presented its annual Distinguished Community Service Award for thirty years.
Frank is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
He was an Army Officer in World War II, having served in both northern
Africa and the European theatre of military operations. The Spring
2004 Reuni! on of the Valley of Rochester, New York, Ancient Accepted Scottish
Rite, was named in his honor.