Fain Eugene “Gene” Horton, longtime Baptist pastor in South Texas, died June 22 in Harlingen, five days after preaching his last sermon. He was 83. Horton was born was born March 29, 1934, in La Junta, Colo., to Fain and Lillian Horton. He graduated in 1952 from Killeen High School, where he played football and was a Golden Gloves boxer. He attended Baylor University and graduated from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, formerly the University of Corpus Christi, and Trinity Theological Seminary in Indiana. He married Phynetta Ann Gautier on Aug. 7, 1953 in Killeen. Horton was a first responder for a tornado in Waco in 1953 that killed 114 people. He started the mission church now known as Skyline Baptist Church in Killeen. He was pastor of First Baptist Church in Mineral while also working as schoolteacher, bus driver and a radio disk jockey. He went on to become pastor at First Baptist Church in Lyford and then Crestwood Baptist Church in Kountze. He was pastor First Baptist Church of Rio Hondo from 1968 to 2016. Most recently, he was pastor at Lighthouse Fellowship in Harlingen.
He was on local television 50 years, wrote the book Revival and recorded a gospel album, He Touched Me. He was a pilot more than 50 years and loved flying, earning “flight instructor” rating and teaching hundreds of student pilots. In recent years, he flew his private plane from Harlingen to San Benito to Rio Hondo as he prayed for the people he loved. Horn preached his last sermon on Father’s Day. He is survived by his wife of nearly 65 years, Phynetta Ann Gautier Horton; children David Horton of Plano and his wife, Stephanie; daughter Donna Greek of Rio Hondo and her husband, Vance; daughter Debbie Damron of Dripping Springs and her husband, Jack; five grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and sister Barbara Ann Bacon of Killeen.