It was easy for me to get lost (I often get lost) as I searched for Jon and Jean Horner’s home located at the very end of Chelan Falls, near the railroad tunnel. My GPS tried to take me to the other side of the river but getting to know them better and touring their lovely new home on the Columbia River was worth the effort!
Jon Horner was born in the Prosser Hospital on March 24, 1954 and grew up in Grandview, Washington, located about 38 miles west of Kennewick and 38 miles southeast of Yakima. Grandview’s economy is agriculture based, with apples, cherries, concord and wine grapes, hops, asparagus, corn, wheat, dairy and other fruit and vegetable production supported by processing plants and cold storage facilities. Jon has two brothers and one sister, he is the youngest.
Jon’s grandpa, Elmer Horner owned a gas station in Grandview for many years, he was born in Michigan in 1874. Jon’s grandmother was born in Saskatchewan, Canada and maintained dual citizenship. Jon’s dad, Glen and uncle Darrell took over the station in 1945 and in 1948 added a car dealership, Horner Pontiac, Olds and GMC.
Jon was very talented athletic focusing his energy on football setting records as running back. His dream was to attend college with an athletic scholarship, unfortunately he injured his knee his senior year that made recruiters a little gun shy.
After graduation from Grandview High School in 1972 he attended Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington. At the end of his first year he was offered a football scholarship at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, he accepted. Jon continued to have knee problems and missed his high school sweetheart, Jean Dunn back in Grandview, (who he would marry soon). He returned to Columbia Basin College. He also underwent successful surgery on both knees.
A major milestone in Jon’s life happened in 1974 when he was accepted at Pacific Lutheran University, located in Parkland, a suburb of Tacoma, Washington. Jon played football under legendary head coach Frosty Westering. Under Westering’s leadership from 1972–2003, Pacific Lutheran won four national titles (three NAIA titles and one NCAA Division III title). Jon played football for three years and set records including the most carries for a running back with 36 in one game. “Frosty wasn’t only a great football coach, he was a Christ follower, a mentor and a major influence in my life,” Jon said. “At that time, I wasn’t far along in my walk with the Lord but I remember Coach Westering telling me to just let Jesus on the front porch. Up until then I was pretty self-centered but because of Frosty I began to live a Jesus style life.”
Jon and Jean were married in Grandview on June 14, 1975, after Jon’s first year at PLU. They lived in Lakewood, Washington until his graduation in June 1977 with a degree in Physical Education and Math.
Jon and Jean moved back to Grandview, Jon taught math at Grandview Jr. High School then served as football coach for Grandville High. Their first son, Ira was born in 1978. In 1979 Jon was hired as football coach for Kiona Benton High School in Benton City near Richland, a position he held for two years.
Both Jon and Jean were homesick for all their friends they made during time in Lakewood and at PLU, they made a leap of faith in 1981. Both quit their jobs and move to Puyallup, Washington. Jean found work as a nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital, Jon worked as a substitute teacher and during the summer, a driver at a drywall supply company.
In 1982 Jon was hired at Spanaway High School as a math teacher and basketball and track coach. He also served as assistant coach for PLU’s football team. Their second son, Iam was born in 1983 and at the same time they found South Hill Christian Church and Pastor Berg who brought Jesus to life for both of them, immediately life got better!!
Another milestone for the Horner’s took place in 1985 when Jon made the tough decision to give up teaching and coaching that he loved and set out on a three-year program that allowed Jon to become a partner in Kent Gypsum Supply Company. This was also the year their third son, Jordan was born. The company purchased a second store that Jon managed and over the years the company purchased two more, for a total of four stores. Jon spent 32 years with the company and retired on January 1, 2016.
Jean Dunn was born April 24, 1954 in Rapid City, South Dakota where her dad was serving as a Staff Sargent in the United States Air Force. She has four brothers and three sisters. Her dad retired from the Air Force and moved the family to Yakima, Washington in 1958, he became a banker. The bank transferred her dad to Grandview (funny how things work out) when she was in the 8th grade. Jon and Jean began dating in high school, Jean was a cheerleader and Miss Grandview her senior year, Jon a football star.
Jean always knew she wanted to be a nurse from the time she was a little girl. During high school she participated in a Nurses Aid program, after graduation from high school she spent two years in the Nursing Program at Columbia Basin College receiving an ADN nursing degree.
In 1973 Jean took a position at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma while Jon attended PLU. Jean spent four years at St. Joseph and held many positions including emergency room, burn unit and physic ward, her favorite was working in labor and delivery.
The family moved back to Grandview in 1977, Jean took a position with a family practice doctor as a labor and delivery nurse.
In 1979 Jon and Jean were introduce to the world of “Foster Care”. Jean cared for an infant for two months in the ICU at Sunnyside General, the little girl had Whooping Cough (also known as pertussis or 100-day cough). They started paperwork to foster her as the mother indicated she didn’t want the child, in the end the mother took the baby back. So, the idea had been planted and years later when the youngest of their three boys was six they learned of a little girl in foster care (Stacie) whose mom was pregnant again with soon to be James. The mother was not compliant with what the State required her to do and the Horners knew the newborn would be taken at birth. They started the foster/adopt training and Jon and Jean were able to give respite care to Stacie one day a week for a number of months before James was born. They brought James home from the hospital at 28 hours of age and Stacie was placed in their home seven weeks later. They were legally free at age two and three when they finalized the adoption. When I asked Jean why they went to this effort she said, “We knew we could love another child that was not our own and we felt God leading us to adopt a sibling group rather than just one child.”
As mentioned above, the family moved back to the westside in 1981 and Jean secured a position as a Labor and Delivery nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, a position she held for 27 years. This was followed by 12 years at the Enumclaw Community Hospital finishing her career with four more years at St. Joseph Hospital in the Labor and Delivery department.
Jon shared with Jean he was going to retire on January 1, 2016 about two weeks before he actually retired! Jean thought about it for two minutes and decided if he could retire so could she……Jean retired on January 2, 2016!
I asked if they had a plan for their retirement years and they both said, “Not really but we are letting Jesus guide our life.” They purchased the property their home is located on at Chelan Falls in 2006. Jean’s sister, Jody and brother in-law, Randy Oster own the property next door. Jon and Jean build a garage with a loft in 2013 so they would have a place to stay when visiting Chelan.
On October 9, 2017 they sold their home of 37 years in Puyallup as they had begun building their current home August 2017. Of course, this was a huge change in their life, they are still adapting to the Chelan life style. There are many positives with the move, great friends, a wonderful church (North Shore Bible Church), no traffic and a much slower pace. One negative is being so far away from their five children and 11 grandchildren with two more on the way.
They both are finding ways fill their spare time. Jon just signed up to be a Volunteer Fireman in Chelan, he plays drums for the North Shore Worship team and they both made the decision to host a “Small Group” from North Shore in their home. Jean joined a quilting group and helps in the Church’s kitchen.
When I asked about future plans, number one on the list is visiting family in Puyallup, Beaverton, Oregon, Columbia, Missouri and Anchorage, Alaska. They will be taking a river cruise on the Rhine River that begins in Amsterdam and ends in Switzerland. They will share this experience with longtime friends, Dan and Sue McReynolds.
Over the years, Jon and Jean have been on several mission trips, they are looking towards the next trip in January to Haiti. Jean went on two mission trips to Chile and two to Peru through Rainier View Christian Church. Later a team from Rainier View went with other teams from all over the United States to Haiti sponsored by Missions of Love Haiti. Jon went three years ago helping build an enclosure that would house a medical waste incinerator. Jean joined Jon on his second trip to Haiti and worked with and eye surgeon. Jon continued to work on the medical waste incinerator project. I asked Jean why they volunteer their time on mission trips and she replied, “I have always had a desire to help and felt God’s calling, Jon went because he was asked by a friend to go and help.”
This interview took nearly three hours, a couple cups of coffee and a tasty sweet roll Jean made for us. Before the interview I only knew Jon as the drummer on our Worship team and left feeling I had made two great friends! That highlights the reason for these stories. As a church, when we take the time to know each other we find some amazing people and good friends!
By Norm Manly