On November 15, 2013, Cliff Horton passed away peacefully at home at the age of 91, knowing how deeply he was loved by so many people whose lives he had touched. He stayed active and productive up to his final days, with his playful wit and charm still working.|
Born in Worcester, MA, Cliff grew up with a passion for science, music, and nature. After receiving a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1943, his education continued with a number of graduate level courses and General Electric's rigorous 3-year Advanced Engineering course, considered equivalent to the technical portion of a PhD.
His engineering career started with RCA in Lancaster, PA, where he met the love of his life, a music teacher named Ruth Duchon Natt. They were immediately drawn together by strong and surprisingly similar tastes in music. Two weeks later, they performed a trio in church, and eight months later, on October 20, 1945, they were married. He never tired of telling the wonderful story of meeting and falling in love with Ruth. They recently celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. Ruth was a church choir director until she retired at the age of 76, and Cliff always sang in the choir.
After joining General Electric in Schenectady in 1946, Cliff transferred to Advanced Developmental Engineering in Owensboro, KY, doing vacuum tube research. He was later promoted to Consulting Engineer. Two vacation trips to the Colorado Springs area had evoked his early childhood love of the mountains. In 1963 he accepted a position as a physicist there at Kaman Nuclear, where he worked on a widely-used secret handbook on nuclear weapons effects. In 1974, Cliff left Kaman to teach engineering at UCCS until his retirement just before his 71st birthday.
Together, Ruth and Cliff traveled extensively, visiting 20 different countries.
Cliff was a warm and engaging man with an outgoing personality. He was a constant source of jokes, wisecracks, and clever ways of saying things, usually delivered deadpan save for the slightest twinkle in his eye. He loved kids. Ruth describes losing track of him going through customs in China, only to find him surrounded by a throng of Chinese children who laughing uproariously at his magic tricks, pulling coins out of their ears.
Cliff said his greatest joys were a long and happy marriage, two sons he was very proud of, and a home on a large, rocky, tree-covered lot. He enjoyed rustic landscaping and was a true craftsman who could build anything. Cliff felt that life had offered him far more than he had dreamed possible!
Cliff is survived by his wife Ruth, sons Larry and Don, daughter-in-law Mary, grandson Lucas, and sister Barbara.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 5 at St. Paul's United Methodist Church. Memorial contributions can be made to the church.
Published in The Gazette on Nov. 24, 2013