Deborah Kay Kiser Horn, age 64, passed away peacefully at home October 11, 2020 due to a short illness. She was born December 06, 1955 in Charleston WV. Her parents Ray and beloved Mary “Nellie” Kiser are both deceased. She married her accomplice and love of her life, Denver Horn, May 17, 1971.

She is survived by her loving husband Denver Horn, sons Christopher Horn, Jason Horn, and Denver Horn II, grandchildren Kaleb Horn, Skyla Kay Horn, and Jaden Horn, daughter-in-law Crystal Sigmon, siblings Randall Kiser, Rita Eggleton, Juanita Crook, and James Kiser.

She loved the outdoors. She was such a force of nature herself that we all believed she would be here to greet us forever, like the morning sun. But the sad truth is, even that great fiery orb’s last day will come, and when it does, the void created by its passing will be equal in grandeur to the feelings of loss among Debbie’s friends and family.

She was a crack shot with a .22 long rifle who could be sentimental at times and sharp as flint the next, but always with an ever-present sense of compassion. Which is to say, if she was reading a person the riot act they listened, not because refusing would have been at their own peril, (that’s debatable), but rather because they understood what was being imparted was important and Debbie’s no nonsense delivery had a way of making one feel worthy of the effort to be schooled.

She graduated from Ripley High School. She worked for several years as a nurse’s aide at Jackson General Hospital. And while she ultimately chose against following the career path of becoming a nurse, she never abandoned her love of caring for other people. As much of herself as she gave as a wife, mother, and grandmother to kith and kin, she also provided to friends and people in search of shelter from life’s storms. The axiom, she never met a stranger, held true with Debbie. She never encountered someone in need that she wouldn’t cook a meal for or take the time to sit down with and have a chat.

She loved to read novels and share good author’s with fellow bibliophiles. She squirreled away the majority of books for each winter so that she could enjoy the outdoors from the first hint of spring through the last days of autumn when she could always be found spending time with her pets and caring for her plants alongside her husband---always with a watchful eye cast in his direction, least a rhododendron be pruned too aggressively for her liking.

She loved to cook for family and alongside family. She valued the importance of ensuring the flavors from her youth be carried over to the next generation. One of the last things she cooked, her son Jason’s birthday cake, was on the day before her first hospitalization. She had been feeling unwell and it took a herculean effort to bake that birthday cake, but no person in this world would have dared try to stop her once she set into motion in her kitchen. Unsurprising behavior from a woman who made it her business every holiday to prepare a stunning array of candies and savory treats that could put Russell Stover and Bob Evans to shame.

She always loved a good board game and considered cheating fair game only when one was savvy enough to avoid getting caught. She always laughed hardest and longest at family stories the greater the degree of awkwardness and embarrassment attached to the telling. Even if the story was about her; such as the time she had been practicing yoga and decided to “test herself,” as she put it, by climbing through fence gate slats on the family farm and proceeded to get herself trapped so completely, and refused anyone stepping in to help, it took half an hour before she found freedom.

Once, in the last days of a mild summer, in a much quieter and slower time, before Walmart, Facebook, and the world wide web, Debbie’s boys attended bible camp at Goshen Baptist Church. They attended with a large group of other local country kids numbering around thirty to forty. At the end of the week Debbie organized a cookout celebration. The day of the cookout the adults busied themselves, pouring briquettes into two charcoal grills, dousing the piles with Kingsford charcoal lighter fluid and igniting them. The country kids did what country kids will do and crossed the creek in front of the house. They climbed en masse up the steep hill on the creek’s opposite side and made their way up to a cliff screened by oak trees. Before long, a rambunctious boy found a slab of moss-covered sandstone and for some reason thought it’d be fun to pry the stone from the ground and flip over. Once he accomplished this feat he found, to his horror, not a few nightcrawlers or a bare patch of earth the exact shape of the stone, but rather a nest of highly alarmed yellow jackets. As the yellow jackets began their attack, the ensuing exodus of screaming country kids was a thing of epic proportions. They fled in all directions, in all manners, some of those nearest to the exposed nest opted to leap from the cliff and, adrenaline charged, they hit the ground running, while others of their peers utilized the advantage of the hill’s steep incline, and previous autumn’s bed of fallen leaves, to slither and slide on their bellies and backsides down the impromptu slip-and-slide. Pell-mell, they arrived at the creek and forded back across in the direction of the house, all the while mercilessly hectored and stung by enumerable yellow jackets. Then, they reached the yard, where, what felt like a miracle, occurred; the charcoal smoke repelled the attacking yellow jackets.

Debbie, far from being a stranger to life’s hard experiences, took the entire situation in stride. She stared into the gaping maw of close to forty wild eyed country kids barreling blindly forward, her own boys among them, and then she did something unforgettable. She raised both arms and motioned that horde in her direction; especially the unfortunate stragglers who had yet to notice that a yellow jacket free zone existed inside the smoke-filled yard.

Then a second miracle happened. Debbie, the veteran nurse aide’s solemnity calmed everyone’s nerves. She moved among the wounded, administered home remedies, and reassured the frightened. Then, beyond reason, the cookout continued unfazed. Forty minutes later the hamburgers and hotdogs had finished cooking, paper plates were piled high with allthe fixings, like sliced tomatoes and onions, lettuce, chili and coleslaw and potato chips. Finally, there came slices of watermelon which naturally led to a seed spitting contest, and everyone had so much fun, that if any yellow jackets remained flying overhead, nobody ever bothered to look up to notice.

Debbie’s most likely advice, for all those fortunate enough to have known her, now finding themselves confronted by the misfortune of her sudden passing, and to all of those unfortunate enough to have never gotten the chance to be fortunate enough to have met her in this life, would be to remember that good times never just precede or follow the most bitter. They mingle. She’d tell us all to face this unforeseen stress as she would have, with varying degrees of cheerfulness, spunk, and tenacity. And when that’s been managed, she’d say to continue setting the table, because there will always be a call for good food to be cooked with the greatest of care from the deepest chambers of the heart, so that it can be eaten and savored to the fullest limit. And then she’d remind us that there are stories to be shared, each infused with equal parts of love and happiness and the occasional---always unexpected---arrival of a yellow jacket swarm, all to be treasured for years to come.

 

Thousands of candles

can be lighted from a

single candle, and

the life of the candle

will not be shortened.

Happiness never decreases by

being shared.

-Budda

It was Mom’s choice to have no services. Just think of her as every winter nears and the time comes to pull out all those squirrelled away books to delight in a good read,(for the past ten years she enjoyed West Virginia native, Craig Johnson’s, Walt Longmire mystery series). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made at www.hospicecarewv.org, or to the American Indian College Fund at www.standwithnativestudents.org