September 23, 1948 - June 17, 2023
Update: Please see the slideshow from Junior’s memorial service here: https://youtu.be/S7Ol8_9oCKI
Junior Horne, 74, died Saturday morning, June 17, 2023, at home. He was born in Dillon, S.C. to Leonard Horne, Sr. and Alberta McDaniel Horne, the seventh of eleven children. In 1958, the family moved to Charlotte, N.C. Though Junior would live the rest of his life in Charlotte, he often introduced himself as “a tobacco farmer from Dillon”. He graduated from South Mecklenburg High School.
Junior earned his pilot’s license before he was licensed to drive. His deep love of planes and flying manifested at an early age when he spent hours lying in the tobacco fields, watching the crop dusters overhead. His brother Doug shared his interest in aviation. While still in high school, Junior worked after school, saving his wages to buy a plane with Doug. Once purchased, the plane had to be transported to Charlotte. Junior was confident he had read enough about piloting to get it home. He flew the Piper Cub to old Carpenter’s Airport in Steele Creek, bounced the landing and snapped the wheel cords – a feat which did not impress Doug.
Before he was old enough to hold a paying job, Junior was his dad’s assistant in shade tree auto repair. He joined his father as a mechanic in the leak and squeak department at City Chevrolet. He also worked at Pelton and Crane building magnaclaves for the sterilization of dental equipment. While at P&C, he and coworker Vernon Stowe, started Metrolina Power Sweeper.
His innovative mechanical skills allowed him to develop a superior sweeper, which is still a standard for commercial sweeping today. Junior and his wife, Susan Ruppalt Lantz, grew MPS into a successful parking lot cleaning business. After 20 years, they sold the business and invested in residential real estate properties. His last job was at Ertel Construction managing the machine shop.
Junior was in his element working with his hands. He was a master carpenter and took great pleasure in remodeling and building homes, planes, cars, toys, bird houses and anything else that struck his fancy. His green thumb was evidenced by his productive vegetable garden and beautiful collection of container plants.
He had a lifelong affinity for dance. Square dancing is where he met the love of his life, his wife of 46 years, Sue. Line dancing allowed him to travel and to develop wonderful friendships. Another cultivated talent was music. He played guitar, banjo and harmonica. He was self-taught, spending hours listening to Chet Atkins and then imitating his unique finger-picking style.
He is survived by his wife, his children, Gregory Ryan (Joy) Horne of Charlotte and Heather Leigh Kelejian of Wilmington NC; grandchildren Thel, Speed, and Ranger Kelejian; brothers, Leroy, Jerry, and Mike; sisters, Frances Bullard, Marianne (Jerry) Totherow, and Sherry Horne; close family friends, Chuck Prouty and Brad Prouty and many beloved nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father and mother; brothers, Leon, Doug, and James (Sonny); and sister, Ruth Norris.
We are grateful for the time we had with him and know he will be missed by all those who were touched by his laughter, ingenuity, compassion, hard work and love.
In lieu of flowers or to memorialize his passing, a donation to the Carolina Raptor Center will honor his love of flight, machined or feathered.
A gathering to remember Junior’s extraordinary life will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 5, 2023, at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, 6500 South New Hope Road, Belmont, North Carolina.