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Obituary: Wesley Pate Horner

Locations: Obituaries Published

April 29, 1925 – Oct. 27, 2020

Wes Horner passed away in Bozeman, Montana on October 27. He was 95. 

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Wes grew up in Roanoke in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and spent his summers on the family cotton farm in Georgia. After overcoming polio as a child, he lived by the motto, “When you have your health, you have everything.”

After his recovery, he became an accomplished rock climber, and he loved hiking, bicycling and cross-country skiing. He was very disciplined, stretched every morning, and remained extremely active throughout his life.

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Wes was a naval officer in World War II, and then got his master’s degree in geology from C.U. Boulder where he was also a mountain guide for the Recreation Department. Wes worked as a geologist for a few years before becoming a high school science teacher. His teaching jobs took his family from the Fountain Valley School near Colorado Springs, to the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, to The International School of Brussels, to Santa Fe Preparatory School in New Mexico, along with other places.

Wes taught Chemistry and Physics at CRMS in the 1960s. He also set up and taught the school’s first blacksmithing program as an evening activity, led many student camping trips, and had a wonderful lifelong community of friends among the faculty and students.

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Wes instilled a love of the outdoors and creativity in his three daughters. He was very inventive and loved working with his hands. Whether he was splitting wood, blacksmithing, building furniture, or playing his harmonica, he was bold and delightfully childlike in his approach. He wasn’t afraid of making mistakes or looking foolish- he knew that it was all part of the learning process.    

Wes had a very active mind and studied Zen Buddhism. He loved to read — especially anything to do with science. He had zero tolerance for ignorance, cheating or laziness and was fiercely protective of the environment. Wes loved the finer things in life like great food and wine, beautiful scenery, and stimulating conversations with friends. Wes believed that we should make the most of our lives for the short time that we are here.   

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Wes was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Virginia Vance (V.V.) Horner. Wes is survived by his five grandchildren, one great grandson, three son-in-law, two grandson-in-law, and his three daughters: Cindy Kahn of Santa Fe, NM, Sally O’Neill of Bozeman, MT, and Pam Porter of Carbondale.

Wes will be remembered for his strength, honesty, creativity, courage, humor, kindness and his great love of rocks and the mountains. There will be a memorial service next summer in Carbondale, Colorado. Wes loved Canyonlands and donations in his memory may be made to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

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