Donald Horton

Donald Ray Horton

1950 - 2024

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Obituary of Donald Ray Horton

Donald Ray Horton was born in Zack, Arkansas on March 5, 1950 to Geneva and TJ Horton.  Don grew up in nearby Marshall, Arkansas with his siblings Kathy, Terry, Lillian and Vivian.  As a youth, he enjoyed hunting, fishing and sports.  At a young age, he began developing the work ethic that would be instrumental to his future success.  He often shined shoes and did odd jobs to make money. Don graduated from Marshall High School in 1968.

After high school, Don went to Central Arkansas State to pursue a degree in business.   In September of 1971, he transferred to the University of Oklahoma.  On the first day of pharmacy school, he met and fell in love with his future wife Marty Martin.  They had a short courtship and were married on December 31, 1971, as New Year's Day was the only honeymoon they would be afforded from his job.  Don and Marty soon moved back to Marshall to help with the family real estate business, and over the next six years they would welcome sons Ryan and Reagan to their family.

In 1977, Don and Marty moved to Fort Worth, Texas to pursue greater opportunities in real estate.  Don went to real estate school and worked for a local home builder.  Don was a natural salesman but this opportunity allowed him to learn all about construction.  He quickly determined that he could build a house far less expensively than competitors.  In 1978, he went out on his own and founded D.R. Horton, Inc.

Don started his company in an extremely challenging environment.  Mortgage interest rates were close to 18%, the economy was in poor shape, and bankers were unwilling to take a risk on a new builder.  Don finally convinced a banker to give him a loan to build one house.  He sold that house in the framing stage and went back to get a loan to build two more.  He sold those in short order, and the company began to grow.  Don and Marty poured all their time and resources into the company, and their hard work paid off.  He quickly became one of the largest homebuilders in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Don saw opportunities to grow into other regions of the country.  In 1987 he began to expand into other markets.  Fifteen years later, the company was building houses in 22 states and with over 48 operating divisions.  D.R. Horton built homes from Hawaii to New Jersey.  The company's stock began trading publicly in 1992 on the NASDAQ stock exchange and then moved to the New York Stock Exchange in 1995.   In 2002 the company achieved two notable milestones: it broke Walmart’s record of 100 consecutive quarters of growth and profitability, and it earned the distinction of being the largest homebuilder in the nation.  It maintains that status to this day as America's Builder.  Don always attributed the success of the company to the great people who worked there.  He always spoke fondly of D.R. Horton's employees and thought of them as family.

Over the last 24 years, Don made a concerted effort to give back to those who had done so much for him.  He championed several initiatives to take care of the company's employees, such as gifting homes to deserving employees and paying reservists their lost wages when they were called up to active duty.  But Don was most proud of establishing Camp Horton in 2001, a summer camp for employees' children who otherwise would not have a summer vacation.  He always had a special place in his heart for children, and it was his delight to see them enjoying the great outdoors.

While Don took great joy in the successes of the company he founded and the people he built it with, his happiest moments involved his family and particularly his grandchildren.  His four grandchildren were the light of his life.  Douglas, Madeline, Derek and Shelby were the only people to which he could never say no.  Although he was busy with work, he would make time to see them play sports, dance, cheerlead, ride horses and other activities.  "Papaw," as they called him, was always available for them, and he loved to take them to the family ranch to ride ATVs, move cattle around and go fishing.    

Don passed away in the early morning of May 16, 2024.  He was a giant in the business world.  But more importantly he was a devoted husband, a loving father and an amazing Papaw.  He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Marty; son Ryan and his wife Stacy; son Reagan and his wife Michelle; grandchildren Douglas, Madeline, Derek and Shelby; brother Terry Horton and his wife Sammie; sister Lillian Copeland and her husband Jim; sister Vivian Rudder; sister-in-law Melissa and her wife Joyce; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

Because of his love for children and in lieu of flowers, please make contributions to Cook Children’s Medical Center and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Visitation: 5 - 7 p.m.. Wednesday May 22, 2024 at Thompson’s Harveson & Cole Funeral Home, 4350 River Oaks Blvd.

Funeral Service: 2:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23, 2024 at Doxology Bible Church, 4805 Arborlawn Drive, Fort Worth

The funeral service will be livestreamed from the church.  You may view at this link   which will go live a few minutes before the service. 



5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Thompson's Harveson & Cole
4350 River Oaks Blvd
Fort Worth, Texas, United States

Funeral Service

2:30 pm
Thursday, May 23, 2024
Doxology Bible Church
4805 Arborlawn Dr
Fort Worth, Texas, United States
(817) 921-5200