Sanger resident Mary Horn dies; county honors longest serving Denton County Judge
Former Denton County Judge Mary Horn, the first female and longest serving Denton County Judge, died peacefully in her home in Sanger on Friday, the county announced over the weekend. She was 77.
Horn was honored during Tuesday’s Denton County Commissioners Court meeting with a proclamation in remembrance of her many contributions to the county as both tax assessor-collector and county judge, according to a Denton County news release. Horn served as tax assessor-collector from 1993 to 2002, and then she served four consecutive terms as Denton County Judge, from 2002 to Jan. 1, 2019.
“Mary will be greatly missed,” said Denton County Judge Andy Eads. “We are indebted to her for her dedication to serving Denton County residents during her long and successful tenure. She created a foundation upon which we continue to build. She will forever be remembered for her contributions. Denton County is better because of Judge Horn’s service.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, our employees and to her many friends across the state.”
During her tenure with Denton County, Horn modernized the county’s taxing systems, unifying tax collection countywide, and she created an online motor vehicle registration to make it easier for residents. Her first major task as County Judge was to increase budget reserves, which went a long way to establishing the county’s ongoing AAA bond rating, according to the county news release. Horn also expanded or improved county buildings including the Loop 288 Administrative Complex, the District Attorney Annex, the Carrollton County Government Center, Precinct 3 Government Center in Lewisville, Lee Walker Government Center in Lewisville, Stephen Copeland County Government Center in Cross Roads, Frisco Government Center, the Mary and Jim Horn Government Center in Denton, Southwest Courthouse, the Charlie Cole Building, the Denton Courts Building, the County Law Enforcement facilities, and the Road & Bridge East and West facilities.
Horn envisioned the new Denton County Administrative Courthouse in the early to mid-2000s, working tirelessly to advocate for voter-approved dollars to build a courthouse worthy of generations to come, much like the historic 1896 Courthouse-on-the-Square has proven to be, she noted in a letter written for a time capsule for the new Denton County Administrative Courthouse. She spearheaded two road bond packages overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2004 and 2008, leveraging $335 million in local funds to bring over $3 billion in road improvements and improved or new county buildings. She saw a 65% increase in population during her term and, as her term was ending, the county roster had grown to 1,700 employees working in 40 buildings to provide convenient services in all four precincts.
Horn served on many boards and committees including the Texas Association of Counties, National Association of Counties, Denton Emergency Planning Advisory Council, Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition, County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas, Elections Commission, Community Justice Council, Salary Grievance Board, Investment Evaluation Committee, Denton County Courts Building Operations Plan Committee, Courthouse-on-the Square Preservation Grant Committee, Contract Oversight Committee, Transportation Committee, Denton County Juvenile Board, Capital Improvement Committee, Denton County Building and Property Committee, Records Management Disaster Recovery Committee, Child Protective Services Board, Civil Service Commission, Vice Chair of the Texas Workforce Development Board, and Public Employee Benefits Cooperative.
Horn was the 1988 Texas Federation Republican Women honoree and served as president of the Denton Republican Women’s Club in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1999-2000, and 2018-2019.
Viewing will be from 5 to 7 p.m. May 11 at the First Baptist Church in Denton, followed by the funeral service at 2 p.m. May 12 at First Baptist. Burial services will be held at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, with details for the burial to be announced. Donations in Horn’s memory may be made to the Children’s Advocacy Center of North Texas.