Lester J. “Bud” Horton, 94, a proud veteran and longtime resident of Sun Lakes, Ariz., passed away on June 6, 2021. He was born September 12, 1926, to Lester and Norma (Foss) Horton in Elma, Wash. He attended Montesano High School in Montesano, Wash., before enlisting in the U.S. Navy and deployed prior to graduation. He served in the Pacific Fleet as an Aviation Ordnanceman aboard the USS Antietam during World War II and USS Bairoko during the Korean War.
Bud was married to his first wife, Margie (Barton) Horton, 42 years until her passing in 1988. Together, they raised three children. He owned a Chevron gas station in Lacey, Wash., followed by a John Deere dealership, before retirement. A child of the Great Depression, Bud was a hardworking and simple man. At age 15, he started working for the local railroad, where he saved enough from his meager wage of $0.90 per hour to pay for his own eye surgery that same year.
Bud was married to his second wife, Sharon (Padham) Horton, 33 years at the time of his passing. The two enjoyed traveling and visiting with friends and were quick to transition from “snowbird” to “permanent” Sun Lakes, Ariz., residents once they experienced living in what they considered “heaven on earth.”
A quiet and humble gentleman, three key events deeply moved Bud in recent years. In 2004, he was one of nine veterans awarded their long overdue high school diplomas at Hamilton High School’s graduation ceremony organized by VFW Post #8053. In 2014, he participated in an Honor Flight, a tribute to World War II Veteran’s where, with a personal escort, he visited the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 2020 and in celebration of the big “94,” he received a surprise birthday parade in front of his house, complete with balloons, signs, sirens, salutes, honks and handshakes. Each event left him speechless and choked up with gratitude.
Bud was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Robert Horton, of Yelm, Wash.
He is survived by his wife Sharon Horton of Sun Lakes, Ariz., and three biological children, Vicki (Bill) Huennekens of Shelton, Wash., Ken (Margie) Horton of Rainier, Wash., Joe (Jennifer) Horton of Montesano, Wash., and four stepchildren, Steve (Sue) Watilo of Spokane Valley, Wash., Shari (Dave) Honeywell of Tumwater, Wash., Lauri Baroni of Sun Lakes, Ariz, and Vicki (Drew Hathcock) Watilo of Wittmann, Ariz. He is also survived by five grandchildren, nine step grandchildren and several great grandchildren.
Bud will be interred after receiving a service with full military honors at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Cave Creek, AZ. His family is organizing a celebration of life at the family home in the fall.