Called "boring" and "the whisper" by teammates, Harold Horton was honored at a retirement dinner Friday night in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Nearly 600 attended, including close to 150 former players and coaches.
Among those who spoke were Jeff Long, Frank Broyles, Jim Lindsey, George McKinney, Bo Busby and Tim Horton. Among those who attended were former basketball coach Eddie Sutton and former assistant coach Merv Johnson.
There was a long line of funny lines delivered, including several by Horton. The best might have been when he said his older brother Don -- recruited by the likes of Bear Bryant and Johnny Vaught -- was like many athletes, "He was bought. George Cole came to recruit him every week. He took him duck hunting and then he gave him a sleeping bag and a bedroom suit."
Lindsey was emotional when he spoke about Horton, calling him "genuine and real. He was taught by his mommy and daddy about God and all the right things. By the way, he was the tightest human being I ever knew."
Among his other remarks, Lindsey spoke of the caring side of Horton. He said if you were in a hospital bed, Horton would be among the first five to make a visit. An hour later when Horton finished the night with 45 minutes of stories, he told of a hunting trip at Busby's hunting club. He said many of the hunting spots are named for people.
"There's one named for Danny Ford," Horton said. "Danny was losing his balance and about to go down. It was so cold. He reached out and arm for me and I gently stepped back and away. That hole is named for Danny now."
Lindsey, sitting behind Horton on the stage, said, "That's his caring side!"
McKinney recalled a story from Bill Wilson, now a federal judge. He said it was Wilson's freshman year. He had been out "exploring the world" on Dickson Street. He came in late on a Friday night and was just getting to sleep.
"Everything was fine," McKinney said. "Bill said he was nice and comfortable in his bed and then at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, he heard this -- Harold on one end of the hallway and Don on the other end."
McKinney pulled out a duck call and demonstrated a hail call, then a feeding call.
"Don and Harold were practicing," said McKinney, who quickly added that they were a lot better at the call than his demonstration.
McKinney thanked Horton for helping him stick it out at Fayetteville through brutal practices on the scout or freshman team. There were 42 in their original class. Four years later, only 12 remained.
"We were sitting at the edge of the ramp leading up to the fieldhouse after one practice," McKinney said. "I told him maybe we should quit. Harold said, 'I can't go back to DeWitt.' That was good and I said I probably couldn't go home either. So we didn't quit."
McKinney called Horton a tough "north-south runner," while Broyles recalled the way he led and organized fourth-quarter rallies on the sidelines. Both said Horton made key plays in cruical situations in big games with gritty runs or punt returns.
McKinney also called Horton "boring" because he didn't play cards with the gang, instead working on his books.
"He told us he had to graduate because if I don't, I have to go back home," he said. "I saw a TV interview where Harold said he always just put his head down and kept plowing. That's what he did. Those practices when Frank came when we lost six straight, they were brutal, brutal. I remember those tackle drills. We were the tacklees."
McKinney said Horton became more popular after wife Betty arrived in Fayetteville in 1960.
"They were down at Carlson Terrace," McKinney said. "Harold became very popular because Betty had a beautician license and was a good cook. You could go down there and get a real meal and a hair cut."
When Tim Horton spoke, Lindsey delivered another good line. Tim recalled the time he came home for a summer visit. He said he was coaching at "either Air Force or Kansas State, but I can't remember." Lindsey interjected, "You ought to forget both of those."
But that didn't derail Tim. He said the talk was with UA trainer Dean Weber. Tim asked how his father was doing. Weber said, "I don't know a person who loves his family -- that's his wife, his kids and his grand kids -- more than Harold Horton."
Harold brought down the house when he spoke of wife Betty.
"Betty started saying, 'Let's get married, let's get married,'" Harold said. "Finally, I said okay, but you have to make one promise, I want you to go to Baptist church. She was Methodist. So we got married. I've been a Methodist ever since."
He pointed to Lindsey at the start of his remarks.
"Jim, I may be tight," he said. "The first time you told me on the phone that I was tighter than Wilson (Matthews), it caught me off guard. But after that anytime someone said that, I told them I took 10 percent of my salary and gave it to the church. If you don't do that, then you don't have a right to call me tight."
Then, Horton pointed to McKinney and said, "George is the only person who never went to class and got all Cs."
Horton said he owed a lot to the University of Arkansas. He admitted that what everyone said in DeWitt was probably true, that he got his scholarship because of his brother.
"One thing that they failed to recognize, I wanted to play," he said. "Like George said, there were 50 who came in our class and only 12 made it to the end. Our APR wasn't very good. ... The UA meant a lot to me. It gave me an opportunity."
Near the end, he talked about his early years in the dorm when he said he and roommate Jarrell Williams read the Bible at night. When someone in the crowd made a crack, Harold said, "I read to Jarrell."
That was time for Harold Horton to step down. And he did with something from his heart. He said, "The Good Lord blessed me."
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