James Orin Hornbeck, 73, passed away March 1, 2019, at the Miami County Medical Center in Paola, Kansas.
A private service will be had by his family at a later date.
He was born in Fresno, California, to James and Francoise Hornbeck on April 18, 1945. He attended many elementary schools and high schools throughout the United States while his father served in the United States Army. While a young boy living in Anchorage, Alaska, Jim read the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which undoubtedly served as his inspiration to make a “river-worthy” raft and set out for adventure with his dog to Fire Island. What was supposed to be a day of fun and adventure eventually became a rescue mission for the U.S. Coast Guard as young Jim drifted many miles down the Cook Inlet. Jim’s love for good writing and dogs would become a lifelong passion. Before graduating from San Ramon Valley High School in 1963, Jim won a scholarship from the San Francisco Press and Union League Club for top sports writing. His first job in newspaper was at the Fremont News Register as a sports editor. He served in the Army National Guard after completing training at Fort Ord, California.
In 1967, he met and married the love of his life, Nancy V. Kilbourn. Jim worked for several papers in the Bay Area before moving his family to Ottawa, Kansas, in 1977. While living in Ottawa, Jim worked for the Ottawa Herald for 13 years as the advertising manager. He still continued to write and had a humor column that was featured in the local paper as well as the Kansas City Star.
After raising his children in Ottawa, Kansas, Jim and Nancy moved to New Iberia, Louisiana, where Jim worked in advertising for the Daily Iberian. During the next 20 years, Jim worked for many newspapers to include the Williston Herald, Wahpeton Daily News, Winchester News Gazette, New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, and the Eastern Arizona Courier. As Jim rose to the rank of editor and publisher of several newspapers, he continued to write his humor column and received many first place writing awards.
One of his stories was published in the book Chicken Soup for the Father’s Soul. A collection of all his short stories was compiled for his book Around the Horn in 2015.
Jim spent his retirement years working part-time as a cook for the Osawatomie school district. Jim’s hobbies included cooking, fishing, trivia competitions and playing golf. He was an active member of the Optimist Club, Lions Club, Rotary Club, and the United Way.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Nancy Hornbeck; son, Shawn Hornbeck (Cara); daughter, Katie Butts (Kelly); and five grandchildren, Hannah Hornbeck, Grant Hornbeck, Jack Reynolds, Ryan Reynolds, and Alison Hornbeck; and his sister Marge Littleton.