Setting, and Meeting, Goals
At an office Christmas party in 1999, Matthew Horning told a colleague he had two goals: improving at guitar and finding someone to love.
In January he started taking guitar lessons. In August he met Maura Landry, who also lived in Hoboken, N.J.
"Hi," he called down the table at a Mexican restaurant where mutual friends had gathered. "We're neighbors."
In the following months, Mr. Horning's grin grew into what his family called the "Maura smile." He started getting sappy, observed his sister, Dana.
A database administrator for Marsh & McLennan, Mr. Horning, 26, aspired to write a fantasy novel or a comic book. His dreams were simple and sincere. "We didn't have to live in the biggest house on the street, but the people inside had to be happy," said Ms. Landry, 24.
Though not yet engaged, the couple were planning a life together. She wanted four children; he talked her down to three. He wanted her to walk down the aisle to the "Star Wars" theme. She said, "We'll see."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 30, 2001.
Matthew Horning, 26, never looked for accolades
When Matthew D. Horning graduated from James Madison University in Virginia four years ago, he donned his cap, gown, and a "gold rope" that caught his mother's eye.
"What is that?" Diane Horning of Scotch Plains remembers asking.
"Oh. This? I think this is for magna cum laude," was Mr. Horning's humble, almost offhand reply.
Not only were his parents unaware of their son's academic achievement, they were also not surprised he played it down. That was just the way their son was.
"He didn't collect accolades," his mother said.
Mr. Horning, 26, of Hoboken, worked in data management for Marsh & McLennan, a financial services firm. He was at work on the 95th floor of the North Tower when a hijacked jetliner crashed into the building on Sept. 11.
"Everybody said that he was their best friend," his father, Kurt Horning, said. "I didn't realize one person could have a million best friends."
Mr. Horning's parents described their son as a caring and giving man who was resourceful and inventive, even as a child. And, his mother said, he always loved animals "for the unconditional love they gave."
Mr. Horning was close to proposing to his girlfriend, Maura Landry of Hoboken, his parents said, and had even asked his father for advice on how to buy an engagement ring.
"He wanted a wife and children and a big old sloppy dog," his mother recalled her son saying. "And a book to read on the beach. He didn't ask for much. He didn't ask for the world. But he had a job and he was responsible."
A 1993 graduate of Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, Mr. Horning had worked for Marsh & McLennan since 1999.
His sister, Dana, said he was a "'great friend," and a devoted fan of his two favorite teams, the New York Mets and the Jets.
In addition to his parents, sister and girlfriend, Mr. Horning is survived by his paternal grandmother, Ruth Horning of Scotch Plains, and his maternal grandmother, Ruth Jannuzzi of Basking Ridge.
There will be a visitation from 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Higgins Home for Funerals, 752 Mountain Blvd., Watchung. Family and friends who wish to share memories during the visitation may do so beginning at 8:30 p.m.
A memorial Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 20 at Our Lady of the Mount Roman Catholic Church in Warren.
Donations in Mr. Horning's memory may be made to the New York Mets Foundation, Shea Stadium, Flushing, N.Y. 11368, or to Heifer International, P.O. Box 8058, Little Rock, Ark. 72203. Heifer International is an organization that offers hungry families around the world a way to feed themselves and become self-reliant.
Profile by Debra Dowling published in THE STAR-LEDGER.