Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Accountant Horton traveled widely


Juanita Martin Horton

Juanita Martin Horton, an accountant who’d seen much of the world before spending more than a decade keeping the books at L.A.B. Flying Service, died May 29 in Desert Hot Springs, Calif. following a stroke.

Born in Smackover, Ark., on Aug. 27, 1937, Horton was the youngest of three daughters of Virgil and Ruby Heard Martin. Her father was an oil industry worker who retired early and operated a bookstore in Kilgore, Texas, a city made wealthy from oil production. She grew up in Kilgore, reading books and playing on her high school tennis and college volleyball teams.

Horton earned a teaching certificate from the University of Arkansas and a degree in accounting from Southern Methodist University. She took a holiday job at Neiman Marcus department store in Dallas and so impressed store scion Lawrence Marcus that he made her his executive secretary, said James Horton, Juanita’s husband of 37 years.

“She was very good at what she did. She was a very studious and organized person,” Horton said.

Juanita left Neiman Marcus to marry her first husband, a marine geophysicist who worked for Hunt Oil Co. and Texas Instruments and traveled the world on a ship, prospecting for offshore oil deposits. With their two children in tow, Juanita lived in posh hotels in Australia, Europe, South America, and Asia in the late 1950s and 1960s, sometimes escorted by chauffeurs and bodyguards.

She returned to Kilgore in the mid-1970s. After her marriage dissolved, she struck up a relationship with Horton, an oilfield engineer 10 years her junior, after encountering him at her family’s bookstore. She later worked as an accountant for a private shipyard and towing company in Houma, La.

She and James married, and through a Texas family connection, visited Haines in the early 1980s. They moved here in 1984, partly so James could get resident fishing and hunting licenses. He bought a plane and poked around on mining claims near the Tsirku River. Juanita became L.A.B.’s bookkeeper, a position she held through 1995. The couple lived in an apartment at the airline office.

Their savings running low, the Hortons left town and resettled in Bellevue, Wash. Juanita found work in accounting at Microsoft, where James hired on a contract computer engineer. In 2006, they returned to Haines after airline owners Layton and Lou Bennett asked Juanita to help straighten the firm’s books.

The Hortons lived here through 2010, housesitting. Although Juanita suffered a stroke in 2005, she maintained a daily regimen of long walks, regardless of the weather. “She liked walking in snowstorms, shoveling snow, chopping wood,” her husband said. “In January, she said, ‘Why don’t we go back to Haines?’ She always wanted to go back.”

They moved Desert Hot Springs in 2010.

Family members said Juanita was an avid sports fan who enjoyed watching tennis, golf, Formula One racing, and Dallas Cowboys football. “Aunt Nita” also was a favorite of her six nieces and nephews, they said.

Juanita is survived by her husband of 37 years, James E. Horton; daughter Lynn Harbert Fulks of San Marcos, Calif.; son John Thomas Harbert III of Rock Hill, S.C.; stepson Richard Dane Horton of Boulder, Colo.; stepdaughter Jamie Horton Williams of Napa, Calif.; and by sisters Wanda Martin Halbert of Kilgore, Texas; and Frances Martin Cross of La Jolla, Calif.

James Horton said his wife wished to have her remains spread over Mount Baker, near the Canadian border, a favorite area on their plane trips. “I used to fly her all over everywhere. She spent plenty of time with me in the mountains. We had an interesting life up there.”

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