Obituary: Robert James Horton
Mar 27, 2014 | 891 views | 0 0 comments | 201 201 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Robert James Horton

March 26, 1922 to March 6, 2014

Robert James Horton died peacefully at his home in Scotts Valley surrounded by family and friends. He was 91.

Mr. Horton was a born leader, always willing to lend a helping-hand, and known for his wry sense of humor and keen whit. He leaves a legacy of mentoring those around him to be proactive to bring positive change to the world.

Born in Rocky River, Ohio, Mr. Horton spent his youth sailing on Lake Erie and learning to perform magic. He had two older sisters, Virginia and Peggy.

At the start of WWII, at the age of 19, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was quartermaster to the newly commissioned Fletcher-class destroyer, USS Spence.  While at sea, he almost died of rheumatic fever and was successfully treated with an experimental drug, which became the worldwide cure. While recovering, he served in Charleston, S.C., where he met Marguerite Hills, and they began their 70 years of marriage.

The couple moved to California, where he graduated from Stanford University in 1949. During this time, they performed on-stage as the Magic Makers, astounding their audiences with original magic effects that Mr. Horton developed. He became a life member of the Society of American Magicians, and a performing member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood. 

An Eagle Scout, Mr. Horton started his professional career with the Boy Scouts of America. He advanced and became the public relations director in Hollywood and got to know those in the entertainment industry including Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan. He retired as the Executive Scout Director of the Stanford Area Council in Palo Alto.

Mr. Horton was also a 50-plus year member of Rotary International.

He visited 61 countries in his lifetime, and after moving to Lake Havasu City, Ariz., he taught magic at the community college, and performed regularly. 

He was an active member of the Friends of the Library, and worked as a volunteer at the hospital. He spent the last nine years in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Mr. Horton is survived by his wife, Marguerite, and children, Robert Horton, Jr. of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., Nancy Owens of Boulder Creek, and Betsy LaForge of Durham, N.C.; seven grandchildren; two step grandsons and four great-grandchildren.

He spent his last years at Oak Tree Villa Senior Living in Scotts Valley where he performed magic shows and sponsored card games while participating in the resident’s association.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Boy Scouts of America, Pacific Skyline Council, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94301 or

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