Patty Horton will be remembered

Published 10:09 pm Friday, January 2, 2009

Patty Horton was a cultured pearl in Demopolis, a Renaissance woman who helped bring literature and the arts to her adopted hometown.

Those who did not know her have enjoyed — or should take the time to enjoy — the many things around town that she has played a hand in: the Canebrake Theater, the Demopolis Public Library and several other educational and enriching ventures.

An award-winning poet and author, Horton was active in the First Presbyterian Church and was involved in many other civic functions, especially those involving education and the arts.

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“Patty and her husband, C.W., were among the first people with the Canebrake Players,” said Ann Parsons, who has been with the community theater program for a number of years. “She was just a really neat lady. She was so gracious to everybody.

“The only time I got to work with her in a play was with ‘Tom Sawyer,’ one of the children’s productions. She was just great — so smart. C.W. used to run the lights, and he’d build steps, and he was onstage, too.”

Parsons said that Horton enjoyed acting and also worked with publicity for the theater company.

“She was so wonderful onstage,” Parsons said. “She really was. She was well-read, learned; she wrote poetry herself and shared it with so many people. She was in ‘Arsenic and Old Lace,’ ‘Tom Sawyer,’ ‘Sunday’s Child’ — she was just in so many plays.

“Two years ago, she called me one Sunday and asked me if I was going to try out for a play, and I had a fever virus, and she wanted me to take her to the play and try out for it. She did try out for it, and I think they cast her, but she was having health problems then, and she decided she couldn’t do it, but she loved it, and she always enjoyed the plays. Sweet lady.”

The Hortons also were active with the Demopolis Public Library through the Friends of the Library organization.

“She was wonderful, from her personality down to her peanut butter fudge!” said Connie Lawson, the library’s circulation manager. “She was absolutely wonderful. She was a member of the Colonial Book Club.

“When I first started working here, she and her husband, Mr. C.W., were instrumental with whatever we did at the library. One thing I remember about him was his wanting to use the computers. He could barely even walk into the library, but he wanted to sit there and learn whatever it was these computers were all about.”

Lawson said that Patty Horton became closer to the library after her husband of 55 years passed away.

“Once or twice a week, she would come in,” Lawson said. “She was a really, really sweet person. She’s going to be deeply missed.”

“We were in the Colonial Book Club,” said Betty McCormick. “She had held all of the offices, but I guess you would say she was our ex officio parliamentarian. Whenever anybody had any questions, they would always go to her!”

The Hortons traveled often, taking part in elderhostels, which are educational tours in the United States and abroad.

“They would stay in dorm rooms and sometimes, in kind of a motel,” said Alma Sheppard. “She and C.W. loved to travel, and they did a lot of trips.

“She was also really interested in the school foundation. She started a memorial fund there for her husband, and a lot of people contributed to that in honor of Patty.”

Many of her friends marveled not only at Patty Horton’s intelligence but also at the size of her heart.

“I can tell you how generous and hospitable and open and warm-hearted she was towards Cloyde and myself,” said Lee Williams, speaking about her husband, Cloyde. “We had a wonderful relationship.

“She would have us for birthday dinners — anything to say to us and other people, anyone she met, how special they are to her. She truly loved people. She was not judgmental or critical.”

“She did so many things for other people and consoled them all,” McCormick said. “She was just a brilliant, sweet person.”

Patty Horton spent the last 40 of her 83 years in Demopolis. An intellectual beyond comparison, an accomplished poet and writer with a love of the arts and her fellow human beings, she has led an enriching life and has left an indelible mark on the education and the arts of this city.