Gary Clifford Horn

October 24, 1940November 20, 2021

Gary Horn, 81, died Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, surrounded by family and friends at his home in Phoenix, Arizona. Gary was born October 24, 1940, the oldest of three children to Verl and Smantha Horn in Mooreland, Oklahoma. He graduated from Mooreland High School in 1958. On August 29, 1958, he married Darla Jean Horn. They celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary in 2012. Gary served in the United States Army from 1958 to 1961. Following his honorable discharge, the couple returned to Oklahoma where Gary enrolled at Northwestern State College in Alva and began his lifelong career as an educator. He taught communication skills at both the high school and college level for over 40 years, earning his master’s degree at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan., and pursuing his doctoral studies at North Texas State University in Denton, Texas. Gary taught communication and coached debate at both Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., from 1974 to 1985 and Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., from 1985 until his retirement in 2005. Gary coached several national debate champion teams and was honored by his peers throughout his career. He served as Pi Kappa Delta National President 1985-87; received the E.R. Nichols Award for outstanding contributions to the discipline of intercollegiate forensics and excellence in teaching in 1991; named the 1991 Ferris state University Distinguished Teacher award for his dedication to and excellence in teaching; in 1994, Gary co-founded the National Education Debate Association (NEDA); in 2005, he was inducted into the Pi Kappa Delta Hall of Fame; and in 2012 was named a member of the Kansas Speech Communication Association Collegiate Hall of Fame. He helped establish the Kiwanis Club in Big Rapids and was active with the Salvation Army in Big Rapids. He was also a 32nd degree Mason. Gary loved to travel, always offered words of encouragement, and loved to celebrate holidays and birthdays with his family. Most of all he enjoyed his seven grandchildren.

He is survived by son Rick Horn of Abilene, Kan.; daughter Rene’ Kaufman and husband, Tony, of Lawrence, Kan.; daughter Dr. Mary Jo Horn and husband, Mark Sisson, of Fayetteville, Ark.; seven grandchildren, Jennifer Kaufman, Jessica (Tim) Kearney, Andrew Horn, Sydney Kaufman, William (Woody) Horn, Samuel Horn and Alaina Jean Horn-Sisson; great-granddaughter, Holland Horn; sister-in-law Ann Hill, and her husband and Gary’s lifelong best friend, Roscoe; and special friend, Pam Joraanstad.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean; his parents; and two sisters, Nancy Butler and Ramona Bishop.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, December 4, 2021, at the First Assembly of God Church, 3906 Lakeview Dr., in Woodward, Oklahoma. Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Gary and Jean Horn Scholarship Fund at Ferris State University 1201 S. State St., Big Rapids, Mich., 49307


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Gary Clifford Horn

have a memory or condolence to add?

Carol Patrick

December 4, 2021

Was lucky enough to have Gary Horn as a prof and mentor at SC in the 1980s. What a kind, gifted man. I consider myself lucky to have had him as a role model, and think as I teach college classes myself how he would have handled something I’m handling.. He was and is an inspiration. ❤️

Donna Smith

December 2, 2021

Gary was a colleague. As we had offices in the same hall, I saw him frequently. Gary was always pleasant. He had a smile for everyone and a cheerful greeting. Gary was a very talented debate coach. He led his team from victory to victory. The students certainly appreciated him. Many attributed their success in the world to Gary's teaching and debate coaching. We all missed Gary when he retired. He will always be a part of the Ferris State University communication faculty.

Scott Cohen

December 2, 2021

Just expressing my condolences. I was here for just 3 years when Gary retired. But I did enjoy my interactions with him, and appreciate all he's done for our students and the Forensics/Debate Team. He is very fondly remembered here at Ferris State Univerity's Humanities Department. Best wishes to the family.

Christine VonderHaar

December 2, 2021

I remember Gary fondly in our college at Ferris--always a smile, ever congenial, happily greeting me whenever we met in hallways or activities. I admired his many accomplishments with speech competitions, his coaching abilities and connections with students on his teams and the championships and national recognition he brought to FSU. A wonderful colleague and a passionate, dedicated teacher and coach. He is remembered and will be missed by many of the Ferris family.

Tammy Babcock

December 2, 2021

I fondly remember Gary from Ferris State University. He was a great guy. Condolences to the family.

John Thorp

December 2, 2021

I am proud to have been Gary's colleague at Ferris State University. Every time I saw him he was smiling at me. The day went better when I had met Gary.

John Thorp, emeritus Social Sciences Department Head.

patsy bixler

December 1, 2021

When Gary and I were little ones he was like a Brother to me, and shared his Mom and Dad with me. We had a very special bond all of our life. I will miss him calling me once in awhile. Love and Prayers for all the Family.

Katherine La Pietra

December 1, 2021

I don't have a specific memory-but I will always remember Gary as a kind and caring soul. Best wishes to you all-he will be missed

Karen Cushway

November 29, 2021

Gary is a Wonderful person. He taught my husband in high school and has been a friend to Deb Curries basket group for years through his wife. He will be sadly missed by all of us , here in Big Rapids. Gods blessings on the family. He is now in heaven where we will all see him again , God willing.
Karen and Kelly Cushway

Dodie-Doris Lemley

November 27, 2021

Gary was my first date at 12. Bought me a hamburger at Lockwood’s cafe. I stared at the jukebox menu at the booth the whole time. Really great guy!! Am so sorry for this loss. I would like to share my bereavement booklet with the family and friends. Email me at God’s blessings to all.