A Tribute to My Father – Robert Edison Horton

A Tribute to My Dad:

Robert E. Horton
May 9, 1929 – March 13, 2012

The following are my sermons notes I used to preach my dad’s funeral on March 16th, 2012 at 2:00 PM, at Sherwood Baptist Church in Lancaster, SC. It is a bit longer than my normal blog. But, my father impacted my life in a huge way, and I want to honor him with my blog today. 

Thoughts about my Dad
My dad’s best friend in my youth was a man named B. W. Smith. They were great friends, and were so much alike. On January 18, 1974,
Mr. Smith died of a sudden heart attack in the driveway of his home. This
affected my dad deeply. At his funeral, the pastor read Psalm 26 and talked
about it. This Psalm fit Mr. Smith and also my dad so well:
Psalm 26- NLT
me innocent, O LORD,for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in the LORD
without wavering. Put me on trial, LORD, and cross-examine me. Test my motives
and my heart. For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived
according to your truth. I do not spend time with liars or go along with
hypocrites. I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in
with the wicked. I wash my hands to declare my innocence. I come to your altar,
O LORD, singing a song of thanksgiving and telling of all your wonders. I love
your sanctuary, LORD, the place where your glorious presence dwells. Don’t let
me suffer the fate of sinners. Don’t condemn me along with murderers. Their
hands are dirty with evil schemes, and they constantly take bribes. But I am
not like that; I live with integrity.So redeem me and show me mercy. Now I
stand on solid ground, and I will publicly praise the LORD.
When I was a young boy I almost idolized my dad. I
thought that he could do anything, solve any problem. For me, he made the world
a safe place. My brother Robert used the word superman when he thought
of my dad.

Revelation 14:13 reads: And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write
this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the
Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for
their good deeds follow them!”

My mom said my dad was the hardest working man she ever met. My dad worked very
hard all his life, and he taught me and my brothers that same ethic. I can
remember as a child watching him work in his huge garden, or on any of the many
projects around our house. He would work, sweat profusely (with sweat dripping off
his nose), and be at the same time either singing, whistling, or lecturing me
as to the value of working hard to make a living.

My dad is in heaven now. All labor has ceased. He was in my past. Though not in
my present, he will be in my future in eternity

I want to take a few minutes as a son to talk about the man my brother and I
call dad, and the only man my mother ever loved.

Here are some of the “works” that follow that are etched in my memory as Robert
Horton’s son.

Work ethic

Ecclesiastes 9:10
thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device,
nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest

My dad quit school in the 8th grade to help his dad on
the farm as they share cropped some land. He would plow a mule all day long as
a teenager.

He drilled that ethic into me and my brothers. He later went on to get his GED
and to work for Dupont all his life until retirement in 1991.

My dad built 3 houses in his lifetime. One in 1953 when he and my mother were
first married. Then, we moved to Florence SC in the early 1960’s where he
bought land, and he and his father built the house there that my brothers and I
were raised in. Then, in 1980, my dad bought the property where He and my mom
have lived there Heath Springs, SC since 1993. He spent 13 years remodeling that
house from the ground up. Dad always had a project going on: adding a bathroom to
our house; enclosing the two side porches; building a huge garage; installing
central vacuum cleaners as a side business; spending 13 years building his
retirement home. Building outbuildings on his property; working his HUGE


Proverbs 12:27

people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of
everything they find.
My dad was frugal to the extreme. He watched what he did
with every penny he made. After we moved to Florence, my mother never worked
outside the home, and my father provided for his wife and three sons well. He
used resources wisely.
After I was grown and married, he told me that he went to
the bank to get a loan for something, and that the banker was amazed at what he
owned based on his income. My dad told me the banker was astonished, having
never seen anything like it before. My dad was ultra frugal, ultra resourceful,
and ultra wise. Every penny counted.

A for instance. In the mid sixties, he decided to build
a 2 car garage with a shop area and with a lean-to  on the back for his tractor, lawn
mower and all things yard and garden storage.

He bought the material from a torn down house and had them delivered to our
yard. My brother Robert and I spend hours pulling nails out of boards and
placing the nails in plastic milk jugs. Then we spent hours straightening the
nails with a hammer on a piece of steel. My brother Robert and I chipped all
the old mortar off of used brick with a hammer and chisel. The garage was built
with the materials from the old torn down house. Frugality. Nothing was wasted,
ever. The garage was build with cinder block, used brick, used mortar (under the
cement floor), used lumber, and used nails. Add to that a lot of creativity.

One time he bought A LOT of plastic 55 gallon drums, and
had them delivered to our property during the winter months so he could store
them in his garden space on our land. Dad sold them a little at a time for some
good profit! Frugal. Nothing was ever thrown away. He may be able to use it


Ephesians 4:25 NKJV

putting away lying, Let  each one  of you 
speak truth with his neighbor, 
for we are members of one another.
My dad was a very honest man. He did not lie and did not
cheat. On anything. Ever. We were taught that lying was one of the worst things
a person could be involved in. This impacted my life deeply before I met Jesus.

I’ve not always been a “good” guy. As a teenager I got involved with smoking
cigarettes and pot before I met Jesus. On the way to church he asked me if I
smoked cigarettes. I could not lie and answered yes. It got really quiet in the
car. Then, my dad asked me if I smoked pot. Again, I just could not lie, and
told him yes. I knew I was in trouble when he spoke not one word the rest of
the trip, and did not look at me even one time during the rest of the ride to
church, while there, or while on the way home.
When home, I went to my room and shut the door. Just
before he retired for the night, my dad came into my room. My light was on
while I was reading. I thought he was going to absolutely butcher me. Instead,
he sat on my bed, looked deeply into my eyes, and with tears streaming down
both cheeks said, Mitch, you disappoint
I would have preferred that he beat me, for that would
not have pierced me the way his words did. I quit smoking pot soon after this. His honest heart broke mine. I’ve never been the same.

My dad loved my mom

Proverbs 5:18 NKJV

your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth.

Ephesians 5: 25

Husbands, love your wife, just as Christ also loved the
Church and gave Himself for her…

In this day of easy divorce, live in lovers and
adultery, my dad loved my mom in a pure way.

They met in December of 1953 as he had just finished a tour
in the Army being stationed in Korea as an MP. It was love at first sight.
My dad dated plenty of girls, but when he saw my red
haired, freckled faced mom – he went head over heals for her. My mom did the
same for him.  When she saw him in his army fatigues for the first time,
she just this week told me “a feeling I never had
before came over me.”
They dated 6 months and were married in July of

My childhood was filled with memories of my dad singing love songs to my mom. Like:

you, you are my true love; you, you, you are the one. We’ll spend our lives
together sharing the rain and the sun. Just one look at you; that’s when I knew
we’d never part; they’ll never be another true love for me, you are the one
love that lives in my heart.

tell me why the ivy twines, tell me why the stars do shine, tell me why the sky
is so blue, and I’ll tell you darling just why I love you.
They sang, held hands together, helped each other when
sick, disagree with passion, hugged, kissed, and just romanced each other their
whole lives long – for over 58 years. It never stopped.
Just the day before my dad died, this past Monday, my mom
told him that she would love to just lay down beside him in bed and hold him.
He could hardly talk for the hard breathing (congestive heart failure)…He intertwined his fingers together and
finally got out…I would squeeze you
like this…

My dad taught me how to be nice to womanhood, to hold the door open, to help
women. To respect and not demean them.

My dad loved gardening and all things horticulture…

Proverbs 28:19

who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who follows frivolity will
have poverty enough!

He planted all sorts of bushes and flowers; fruit trees
and grape vines in our yards. He planted a HUGE garden every year of my life.
He loved it, sweat and all.

Every Sunday Dad and mom would walk around the yard and admire the beauty of the bushes, the trees, the flowers, the fruit trees, and the garden. My dad adored God’s creation and loved to make things grow. 

I never in my life had vegetables bought from a grocery store until I was married and moved away  from home. Thanks dad.

Whit and humor

Proverbs 17:22
merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.
My dad loved to joke around. He constantly picked on all
of us…mercilessly.
He cut up and picked on friends and family, on my mom
and my brothers and me. And if you talked to him long, his wit would
automatically display itself.
 There was no way to keep a straight face. My dad thought life was to be enjoyed.

My dad loved to sing, whistle and hum

Ephesians 5:19 NKJV

to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making
melody in your heart to the Lord,

Working around the house, in the yard, in the
garden…or taking a shower and shaving…or driving wherever…he would do one
of three things. He would either sing, whistle, or hum. 

Often it would be songs from the
baptist hymnal like At the Cross,  or Tell me the Old, Old Story, or Love Lifted me, or How Great Thou Art (I tell you, I know them all because I heard them over and over again at home). Or love songs from the 40’s, or songs from the 50’s.
I always wondered what a one eyed, one horned, flying purple people eater was (a popular hit
song he sang over and over to me from 1958).
I can still sing London
Bridge is falling down…
in perfect Korean…he sang it to me as a child.

Pragmatist and Jack of all trades

My dad would rig something out of nothing to make whatever work. He repaired
our cars, our bikes, the water heater, the toilet, the roof, the furniture, the
yard and gardening equipment. 

At the same time he taught me how to tie my shoes, my tie, how to ride a bike, how to shoot a gun, all manner of gun safety, how to hunt and fish, how to throw a baseball. He also taught me that it was OK to think a little girl in my class at school was cute. He also taught me to look my best when I was going somewhere.

He took a course in small engine repair so lawn mowers
always worked; he took a course in pesticides and got a license just to rid the
garden of bugs and the yard of those pesky mosquitoes.
He rigged an ingenious device on his riding lawn mower
when I was a kid that sprayed a mixture of used motor oil and malathion (bug
killer) on our bushes so the mosquitoes would not drag us away.
A huge snow storm in 1973 dumped 20 + inches of snow on
SC and nobody could travel. He rigged a snowplow made of wood onto his 1950
John Deer tractor and cleared our country community roads.

He threw away nothing. Tires, lumber, brick, milk jugs, nails, screws, washers,
nuts, bolts, baby jars, coffee cans…you name it, we saved it.

My dad celebrated rest on Sundays.

He worked like a Trojan 6 days, but Sundays were for church, eating dinner, and
resting. I’ve been in Christian ministry for over 31 years. He would constantly ask
me, Mitch, are you taking a break each week? 

My Dad was a Christian – a real one

 He did not like
the political facade that some attach to church life, – he was real about
everything. He did not play religious games. 
But he loved going to church. My dad read his Bible. He
prayed. He loved people. But he would not play the lip service religion game.
Not my dad.
He prayed over his meals, and he prayed for us boys. He
was an ordained deacon for many years. He taught Sunday School classes. He
repented when he sinned.

After I had potentially serious auto accident that all
walked away from in August of 1995, I called mom and dad. My dad told me that
he had dreamed that I had died the night before and had prayed for me all day
long the next day.

In 2004, I was on the way to Calcutta India, and to Kathmandu, Nepal on a missions
endeavor. My dad kept asking me for weeks, “are you sure you should be going on
this trip?”
He intuitively knew something was up. At the beginning of the trip,my appendix burst mid-flight from Raleigh
to Atlanta. I never got on the next flight. I had an emergency appendectomy. My
dad knew beforehand and prayed.

dad was ready to go to heaven

He told me many times
the last few months that he would be in heaven soon. He asked me to preach his
funeral, and to make sure my mom was cared for. He was going home.

This Tuesday, an angel came to take his spirit into eternity and away from his
body. My dad passed from death into life. I miss him.

The death sting is gone…

1 Corinthians 15:55-58-NKJV

O  Death, where is your sting?  O Hades, where is your victory?”
(56) The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.(57) But
thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (58)
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in
the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that if we are absent from the body we will
be present with the Lord.

Paul said in Philippians 1  that to die is gain, and said that death is
far better than living on earth.

David the Psalmist tells us that in God’s Presence there is fullness of joy,
pleasures forevermore.

In Psalm 116, David declared that the death of His saints is precious to God.

Bottom line

My dad is not dead, but very much alive. In my memories and in heaven.

D.L. Moody, an evangelist from the late 1800’s said,  One day
you will pick up the paper and read these words Dwight L. Moody is dead. Don’t
believe it for a moment. At that time I will be more alive than I have ever
been in my entire life!
To me now, dad is so very alive, and very fulfilled and happy.

I hope I can impact my world the way his simple honorable life impacted mine. I would not be who I am today without the influence of the man I call daddy. I love this man. And always will.

My dad was born again. My dad was ready for heaven, are you? Romans 10:9-10 shows what to do to get there. Make it count for you.

I hope you enjoyed reading about how my dad’s life impacted mine. Let’s make the most of each day that God gives us on earth. Let’s leave a trail of faith, blessing, and encouragement for others.

3 thoughts on “A Tribute to My Father – Robert Edison Horton

  1. Thank you Mitch for sharing this life you lived with your dad. I'm crying it was precious…want my boys to read this. H e lives in you and soon your mother will be together with him, enjoy her! –Patty J.

  2. Hey Pastor Mitch, Very touching blog today about the life of your dad. Sniff! I think it's awesome that your dad impacted your life the way he did. I know you'll miss him very much. Just remember he's dancing with Jesus right now & you'll see him again one day. Gob Bless You, Warren

  3. Well, as of 8:17am this morning, our daddy will have been in heaven for a week. I miss our daddy so much….. That no words can truly express. Even though he is In a far better place, I miss him in the here and now. I wouldnt have wanted him to be suffering as he was though. It was personally very hard for me to endure the process of his earthly body expiring. It hurt a week ago, and does so now. Mitch, our daddy was an awesome fellow. I would hope that somehow, someway I could have the positive impact on people's lives that our daddy did. I love you, and Rob both… You are great brothers….. And we still have our awesome mother! I love you all! Thank you so much for this post. It means so very much!
    ~~Blake R. Horton~~

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