Horace Linwood Orton, III was born on July 8, 1945 to the charismatic, almost mythical Horace L. Orton, Jr. “Boonie” and the lovely Lillian Vann Young. Horace was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, a city whose ethnic diversity is reflected in his lineage. He was the oldest of 7 children and 3 younger brothers and 3 younger sisters. Family was everything and Horace loved talking about his childhood in Portsmouth, swimming, and crabbing with his siblings and cousins in the inlets of the James River.
In 1958, the family moved from Portsmouth to Richmond, Virginia where Boonie used his GI Bill to purchase a family home on 1114 N. 36th Street in Churchhill. Still very much the segregated south, neighborhoods and schools were more than just community, they were extended family. A gifted athlete, Horace earned the nickname “Speedy” as one of the fastest in the neighborhood. He was a hard worker, picking up odd jobs after school to help at home. Horace attended Armstrong Senior High School and it was during those high school years, that Horace met the love of his life, Gladys M. Jerman. They dated and attended prom together. He graduated from Armstrong in 1963 and went on to become the first one in his family to attend college. A whiz at math and science, Horace graduated from Virginia Union University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology.
Horace moved to the Washington, DC area after graduating from college. He and Gladys were married on August 24, 1968 following her graduation also from Virginia Union University and they settled in Suitland, MD. Horace became an oceanographer, studying the oceans of the world aboard naval ships. In August 1971, a day before their 3 year wedding anniversary, Horace and Gladys welcomed their daughter into the world. As an oceanographer, Horace was blessed to see many different parts of the world, traveling to Japan, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Canary Islands to name a few…By the time he proudly welcomed his son in February 1976, he had transitioned to the United States Census Bureau, so he could be the active father he hoped to be. He went on to become a cartographer (map maker) for the Defense Mapping Agency Hydrographic Topographic Center in Bethesda, MD where he enjoyed a long and productive career until he retired with many accolades and the respect of his peers and his superiors.
Horace gave his lift to Christ as a teenager attending 31st Street Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. But he grew spiritually in his relationship with the Lord and in servant ministry at Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in SE, Washington, DC. He and Gladys became members of PABC in 1975. He served in a variety of capacities including: Sunday school teacher, Chair of the Brotherhood Ministry, Chair of the Transportation Ministry, and the Angel Tree Ministry. In 1988, he was ordained as a deacon of the church and continued to assist in community ministry. He went on to serve as Chair of the Deaconate and received the honor of Deacon Emeritus in August of 2014.
In the last decade of his life, Horace’s health declined, but his faith never wavered. He remained steadfast in his belief that each day was a God given gift and an opportunity to get better and to do better. Even when he lost his ability to physically serve others, he served them with kindness and encouraging words. He continued to be a light and a blessing to everyone who had the pleasure to meet him. His legacy of love, family, and commitment to the work of Christ can be seen in lives of those who mourn his loss: his 2 children, his son-in-law, his 3 beautiful grandchildren, his brothers, his sisters, and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends. He will truly be missed.” (From the obituary for Horace Linwood Orton, III; certain names removed for issues of privacy)