Randy Horton

Disability Advocate Randy Horton Passes Away
Long time disability advocate Randy Horton of Los Angeles County, passed away February 9th, it was announced yesterday by his mother. No details on the cause of his death or of any pending memorial services.

Horton was a well-known advocate not only fighting over the past decade and more against budget cuts to critical services in the community, but he was a prominent figure in many protests and efforts to improve access in public transportation and in the community. One memorable protest was when Randy and another advocate blocked (and went under) a parked Greyhound bus in Los Angeles to protest their buses that were not – at that time- accessible for persons using wheelchairs.

Fellow disability rights advocate Liz Lyons of Los Angeles mourned the loss of Horton saying she would miss him deeply writing that”, to my best friend in the world, You will always be in my heart.”

Another disability advocate, Ryan Duncanwood and his mother Karen, now both living in Northern California, recalled how influential Horton’s advocacy work through the decades, especially in the 1990’s.

Horton, who was in his early fifties, testified at many legislative budget hearings at the State Capitol and at public stakeholder meetings dealing with issues ranging from In-Home Supportive Services, regional centers, and the State’s compliance with the 1999 US Supreme Court Olmstead v. Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson landmark decision that requires the states to take steps to avoid the unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities, mental health needs and seniors.

Over the years Horton served on many advisory boards and committees in Los Angeles County, including the regional center where he received services, North Los Angeles Regional Center, where he served last year on the Consumer Advisory Council (CAC).

Horton met Kimberly there at the ranch and they married in 1987. After a long marriage the two divorced, with Randy Horton eventually remarrying.

Perhaps the most poignant memory of Horton’s own life was words that he wrote himself in his own blog many years ago in 2004. Horton wrote a touching tribute to a man – and the place – that made the greatest difference in his life growing up. The tribute was about the owner of a ranch for children with disabilities, Johnny Carpenter, a former actor and stuntman who died in 2003 at age of 88 years old. Horton wrote that “I met Johnny Carpenter in 1968, when I was eight years old. I was in the Boy Scouts. We went to the heaven on earth ranch. I loved to go horseback, riding, with … Johnny Carpenter, at his wonderful ranch for children with disabilities. I was the poster boy for the ranch. John Carpenter, helped me realize, I could do anything I put my mind to. He showed me, how to ride a horse, by myself.”

Horton noted how important the ranch – and the horses meant to his own life, writing that “I had my own horse named Randy at the ranch. To let you know how important the ranch was to me, two times, my mother and I walked five miles to get there. The kids came in school buses and cars every day. They went horseback riding. If the kids could not get out of their wheelchairs, Johnny would put them in a covered wagon in their wheelchairs . They were so happy! One time I heard a little boy, saying , ‘horse , horse , horse’ . Johnny started crying , because that was the first time the boy had said any words at all.” Remembering the wagon and the joy it brought everyone, Randy recalled that “…one time I was in the wagon with John, he turned over the reins to me. I felt that Johnny trusted me with the wagon and the people in the wagon … I made so many friends at the ranch.”

Horton wrote that his own advocacy was shaped by those years at the ranch and by a man who treated him with love and respect and as a human being, declaring that, “He, John Carpenter, made me the advocate I am today. I loved him and the ranch, very much..”

Sometime in the hours of his passing yesterday, a new posting was made on Randy Horton’s blog that followed his touching tribute of his friend and mentor. It said simply: “Randy Horton joined Johnny Carpenter in Heaven today, February 9, 2012. Randy was loved by many and he is in Heaven now with a Perfect Body from the Lord.”