Beth S. Horton
One of St. George’s most beloved, long-serving faculty members, Head of Instructional Services Emerita Beth S. Horton P’79, ’85, died on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. She was 85.
Ms. Horton was a stalwart champion of students with learning differences or academic challenges. During her 25-year career (1975-1999) on the Hilltop, she tutored hundreds of students, many of whom went on to prestigious careers, and many of whom continued to keep in touch with her long after Prize Day.
She is the esteemed namesake of our Horton Center for Learning, as well as the Beth Horton Endowment for Instructional Services, which was established upon her retirement. Because of the generous support of scores of donors in honor of Ms. Horton, the endowment now funds a faculty teaching chair, as well as free and open access to academic coaching services for all students.
Appreciation and Memories
"Mrs. Horton provided a no nonsense role model of love, determination and wit. Our initial tutoring meeting, I was a bit nervous, but quickly realized I had an advocate on my side. Later, I was lucky enough to have some time with her through my friendship with Schuyler. Her ripples of warmth, caring and encouragement reverberate through so many of us still. A life well lived. Thank you, Mrs. Horton."
—Michelle Keller Gould ’85
"Mrs. Horton always put the needs of students first. She was the best listener and endlessly supportive.
She was particularly compassionate with students who were struggling — academically, socially, emotionally — and pretty much all of us struggled at some point at St. George's. Teens instinctively know when adults care about and trust them, and this is why so many were drawn to her.
While I worked with Mrs. Horton my senior year at St. George's, it wasn't until graduate school in education that I began to appreciate Mrs. Horton's unique genius in her work with students. I drove down to Middletown to meet with her regularly in 1995 and interviewed her for hours for my final project for a class. Her stories were full of teen pain and suffering, and in each story, she was endlessly supportive, loving and compassionate. I will never forget throughout all of those hours of interviews how deeply she cared for so many. The title of my paper on Mrs. Horton was "The Giving Tree."
She was a tremendous educator with a huge heart. I will miss her terribly, but hope to "pay it forward" with my students.
—Laura Foulke ’87
"Mrs. Horton was such a tremendous help to me and gave me newfound confidence as a student. I will always be thankful for her encouragement and support."
—Nicole Robinson Menges ’91
"I spent the majority of my time in Mrs. Horton's office not breaking down sentences (of which she was a master), but breaking down the walls and issues of a young man coming into his own. Without her guidance, support and ever present words of encouragement, the road would have seemed too hard to travel. For that I am forever grateful. In later years as I showed my gratitude with continued support of her chair, she reminded me of how truly special of a person she was to me with continued written words of encouragement, thanks and support. Often we fail to realize the impact we have on others in the moment. In retrospect her impact on myself and many others was so grand and everlasting. I am thankful to have shared how much our time together meant to me while she was with us. I carry much of her wisdom with me to this day and am ultimately grateful to call her a friend. Forever thankful for her guidance and love."
—Tony O'Donnell ’95
Mrs. Horton was a tremendous help to me at a key moment of my scholastic tenure. I am forever grateful."
—Peter Pell ’95
Ms. Horton was an amazing woman! I came in as a fifth former — California public schools to SG. It became clear very early on that I had some catching up to do! Ms. Horton became my gentle calming mentor, helping me to get up to the level asked of by SG. My success as a student at SG was really to her credit! Not only did she close the gap in what I was missing skill-wise, she did it with kindness and showed her delight in all of my successes! She gained my respect from day one, as a mentor and someone that I knew was there as an adult friend!"
—Jill Durkee Creevy ’83
"Beth and her husband joined SG while I was a student, and the campus was better for their talents and love. I had an art class with Shelly in which we were allowed to explore any media we wanted. I still have my pottery horses and remember Nick Cutler's painting of the band saw. I had no need for tutoring (some of my teachers would have argued with that statement), but Beth was a calm and caring influence outside academics. I knew Beth mostly through friends, whom she'd helped. It was that way with many members of the staff at SG — they were there if you needed them or not. I don't think I realized how much Beth and others influenced me until many years later. I was a wayward, clueless teenager, but Beth understood me. Condolences to Allison and her brother, whom I only remember as being a little kid. Bet he's grown up since then."
—Kate K. Davis ’78
"One time while at SG I met with Beth in her little office. She asked me to tell her what I was thinking. I pointed out her office window and I said, 'Do you see the Hostess delivery truck parked there?' She said yes.
I said, 'I plan to hide in the back of that cupcake truck and escape.'
She was delighted by my answer. At that moment I knew I had a true ally."
—Hal Studholme ’82
"Tragically, I had planned to see Mrs. Horton in September. But, I know she knows how grateful I am to her and Mrs. Cari because I told her every time I saw her. And every time she saw me she unnecessarily apologized to me for initially underestimating my ability to conquer the challenges I faced as a student and told me I taught her never to underestimate another student again, to believe in them especially when they were having trouble in believing in themselves. As I told her, anyone’s initial reaction would be to doubt me turning things around so I would get straight As by the time I graduated three years later. I did too, but I dug in deep and was determined to do it no matter what it took. Mrs. Horton, Mrs. Cari, and all the amazing teachers at SG gave me the tools and the opportunity to rise to the challenge, but it was always up to me to find the resolve — and once I did it was 'look out world because here I come.' I look at the time as the defining moment of my life and what I model all my successes on since. Thank you, Mrs. Horton!"
—Neil O'Grady ’87
"Although my contact with Mrs. Horton was minimal after my son David's graduation, we were occasionally in touch re: tales of David's family. I loved her humor, intelligence, and grandmotherly nurturing of her charges. She seemed to be slightly amused by the antics of her flock and always kept them centered ... therefore keeping parents like me more free from worry. Bless you, Mrs. Horton! Your students became infinitely wiser for having you touch their lives."
—Jenny Walcott P’89
"Beth Horton’s place in the pantheon of St. George’s greats was long ago secured. A teacher and mentor whose kindness, understanding, support, and instruction earned her the devotion of a generation of students, she is deservedly honored through the school’s creation of the Horton Center for Learning—a vital engine of the school’s curricular creativity and student support.
"My wife Eleanor and I loved her as a colleague and friend over our years at SG, and we annually renewed our bonds of affection during summer revisits to Newport since our 2011 retirement. Her wit, warmth, generosity, curiosity, and engagement in the enjoyment of living, are legacies we cherish now and for which we will be forever in her debt."
—Gary and Eleanor Cornog, SG faculty/dorm supervisor, 1990-2011
"After I graduated from SG, I always joke with Mrs. Horton that if it weren’t for her, I would have never graduated. The truth is, I was not kidding! She was not only the most wonderful tutor, but a true confidant and friend. I was so fortunate to have her in my life for many years following my time at SG and I will never look at the Statue of Liberty without thinking of her. How lucky we all were to have someone who was such a champion of all and revelled in our success as if they were her own. She loved sharing stories of her children, grandchildren, and time with her sister, and I am so sorry for your loss."
—Alexandra Oppmann Malloy ’00
"Mrs. Buell sent me to get help from Mrs. Horton during my second year at SG. Mrs. Horton helped me to bridge some fundamental gaps I had with my previous education. I am forever grateful for her tutelage. RIP!"
—Nkem Okpokwasili ’89
"Cheerful, warm, intelligent, thoughtful ... what a great person. The world needs more like her."
—Igor Sikorsky ’79
"Ms. Horton had special powers that magically unlocked a writing talent inside me. Thank you for believing in me. You made a huge difference."
—Colin Born ’89
"This amazing lady made such a difference in my life. She so seamlessly gave confidence and voice to those — like me — who struggled mightily in high school. Know, Ms. Horton, that being a Language Chair and teacher now is due, in no small part, to wizards like you. Deeply missed, but forever adored."
—Stewart Steffey ’97
"Beth Horton was one of the most kind and compassionate people that I have ever met. Her smile lit up a room and she always reached out with a hug during our conversations. I know several members of the Class of 1977 who said that they would never have graduated without the guidance and dedication of Beth Horton."
—Elena Kissel ’77
"What a great teacher. She will be missed. She was a good friend and had tremendous positive impact on my academic development. I am not certain where I might be today had she not helped me. I will always remember going over papers with her in her office over Tuck Shop."
—Chris Lee ’87
"What a magical voice, Beth had. Her laugh — so singular — still rings in my ears. And I am so very grateful. Frankly, I cannot imagine SG without her wise counsel, hysterically funny and candid assessments of our context, and her fiercely compassionate compass. Such guts, she had, tirelessly fighting for her students (even when they did not believe in themselves). In my experience, Beth was always the very best, most noble, part of the school."
—Charles A. de Kay ’81
"There are so very few people you meet in life who become such a fabric of your own life you sometimes forget they’re there, until they’re not. I’m remembering one of those people. My very good friend, Beth Horton, mother to my dearest friend, teller of tales, relationship nurturer, epic dinner date, letter writer, one-of-a-kind force of nature personality — the likes of whom we will never, ever meet again. She has been woven into the fabric of my life for almost my entire life (and kept a personal file on me to prove it).
Years ago, for Beth’s 80th birthday, I wrote a poem in absentia. It was the most appropriate way I could have celebrated Beth ... literary, dry humor, name-checking, political, rambling, filled with random memories that peppered an incredible life that impacted so many people, including my own. She loved and was loved. I will miss her dearly."
—Kevin O'Leary ’86
"Ms. Horton spent countless hours working with me on my writing skills. As a result, my writing improved significantly through my tenure at SG. Without her tutoring/counseling, I would not have survived English Lit. and would have suffered mightily. She was kind, compassionate, patient and, above all, an excellent teacher. I am deeply saddened to hear of her passing as I often thought of her years later."
—Anthony Giaquinto ’89
"What a truly special person she was — I certainly would not have stayed at SG had it not been for Mrs. Horton. With her warm and generous heart, she was not only a soft place to land for me, but she was always my biggest cheerleader. Big love to Schuyler and Alison."
—Marcia Lynott-Barkis ’85
"Mrs. Horton was a loving, steady presence in the turbulent world of teenagers — a devoted ally, a witty friend and, when necessary, my firm reminder to get it together! No one could diagram a sentence like her ... our loss, heaven's gain. XO."
—Carol Anne Riddell ’84
"To this day, I think of her and smile ... whenever I have to spell the word 'ch-act-er-ist-ics'! (Oops),
'CHAR-ACT-ER-IS-TICS' ... See, I'm missing you already, Mrs. H!"
—Eric Hall ’80
"I have never met a person that genuinely cared more about her students than Beth Horton. She made a difference in my life and words could never thank her enough for working so patiently with me during my years at St. George’s!"
—Charles Ruma ’89
"Who does not remember Mrs. Horton’s smiling eyes? She was so kind and such a pillar of the St. George’s community. I am saddened to hear of this loss — Deep condolences to Schuyler and all her family."
—Jenny Burr Kallenbach ’85
"An amazing person. Thank you, Mrs. Horton!"
—George Sargent ’00
"Another great one has passed. Heaven has better grammar now. XO."
—Peter Collins ’85
"Beth had the unique skill of being a student's ally — as well as a parental guide. Her wit will be forever unmatched. Her postcards — legendary. The world is a very different place without her."
—Lois Harrison ’82
"For me she was the only ‘teacher’ at SG who had a certain parental warmth and affection, who was 100 percent on my side."
—David Gilbert ’86
"Beth made my St. George's experience a profoundly positive one. We worked together for years without one disagreement or rough spot, and we have remained friends ever since. Beth truly loved the school and her students. When I visited her at her home last year, she showed me a closet filled with files and letters from her former students. She said she was saving them to read once she was in a wheelchair .... Until then, I think she planned to keep taking people to lunch and regaling them with her stories …"
— Linda B. Cari, Beth Horton Chair in Instructional Services and Head of Instructional Services, Emerita (faculty member, 1982-2006)