Beth Smith Horton, longtime resident of Middletown, died peacefully on August 5, 2019, just days after celebrating her 85th birthday surrounded by family and friends.
Born in New York City to Helen P. Smith and Owen M. Smith, Beth and her sister Robyn spent their early years in Manhattan before moving to Cape Elizabeth in Portland, Maine, where Beth established deep roots and lasting friendships. She returned to spend summers there for much of her life. After graduating from Wellesley College in 1956, she moved to the San Francisco area to begin a lifelong career in teaching. There she met and married her husband, W. Sheldon Horton, an artist and teacher. Over the years, the couple lived and worked at Kent School in Kent, CT; Foxcroft School in Middleburg, VA; and St. George’s School in Newport.
As the Head of Instructional Services at St. George’s for 25 years, Beth found her true passion: working individually with students with learning differences, those learning English as a second language, and others that needed extra academic support. She often attributed her interest in helping struggling students to a mishap from her high school days – tumbling off the edge of a cliff and suffering a serious head injury. Beth lost the ability to read and worked to slowly relearn the skill during her junior year. In an interview she recalled, “When I returned to school, I had the first experience that everything was in Greek – like a dyslexic must have. It was very humbling.”
After her retirement from St. George’s in 1999, the Beth Horton Endowment for Instructional Services was established and the Horton Center for Learning was named in her honor.
People were Beth’s passion and she connected with her students, fellow faculty members, her close-knit family, and a vast group of friends from all walks of life. Her favorite pastime was dining out, and she was known for her handwritten letters and notes. She eschewed technology and kept her manual typewriter until she could no longer buy replacement ribbons. She never used a computer, cell phone or iPad and constantly entreated her family and friends to send her actual prints of their photos.
Beth is survived by her daughter Alison Horton of New Canaan, CT; her son Schuyler Horton and daughter-in-law Juliette Horton of Guilford, CT; four grandchildren; her sister, Robyn Helmer of Greenwich, CT; and a niece, two nephews, and their families.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to The American Cancer Society or Planned Parenthood. At her request, services will be private.