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Horton, Dock

Dock Franklin Horton

Belonging to the ninth generation of Nash County, North Carolina, farmers, Dock Franklin Horton was born on January 19, 1943, near High Crossroads. He came from Horton, Eatmon, Richardson, and Thompson ancestors who had begun life in the United States as subsistence planters and had progressed to growing tobacco, corn, and cotton as cash crops.

Dock was one of nine children born to Pearlie Horton and Arah Velia Thompson in the Green Pond Community, a few miles from Bailey. With absolutely no fear of farm animals, he began trucking tobacco before he was six years old. The family’s two white mules responded well to his shrill whistle and youthful trust. His siblings included Arah, Buddy, Jerry, Amy, Curtis, Katy, Ron, and Judy—a close-knit brotherhood!

When Dock reached the middle grades at Bailey High School, he joined the 4-H Club and took on such projects as yard maintenance, small garden plots, and poultry. He usually succeeded because he was a hard worker. Rural Youth Day in Rocky Mount got his summers off to a strong start. Dock excelled in foot races and other competitions for 4-H youngsters.

Although high school was tough for him academically, it proved easy socially, with dating and sports. Dock played basketball, baseball, and volleyball. He became a member of the Future Farmers of America organization, raising tobacco, corn, popcorn, and chickens. In the agriculture shop, he built a shoeshine box and a student desk.

Graduating from high school in the early 1960’s, Dock was somewhat brawny, but his feelings could easily be hurt; and he had already learned not to rely upon his own memory or understanding in business matters. However, his humility earned him many friends.

General Motors made good cars, according to Dock. He always drove Chevrolet automobiles. One particular favorite was his red Chevy truck. He counted upon his “ride” to commute to work over the years in home construction, service and installation for Otis Elevators, as well as tobacco processing and exporting.

Uncle Sam called Dock into the Army for two years during the late 1960s. He served stateside and was honorably discharged.

For more than twenty-five years, Dock was married to Patricia Yvonne Ferrell of Lucama, having tied the knot on May 14, 1972. The couple had daughters Anita Dale, born September 18, 1975 and Deana Gail, born June 24, 1980. Deana wed Chris Horne on April 4, 2009, and the pair had Lucy Rose Horne on May 26, 2010. How Dock loved his girls!

Among his pleasures Dock enjoyed TV westerns, dancing (having worn out more than one pair of loafers), auto racing, tailgate parties, roses, evenings at the Wilson Moose Lodge, Winston cigarettes as well as popular and country music.

Dock similarly relished his time with friends from work and the Lucama community. He had united with the Bailey Methodist Church at age fourteen, but he usually attended Little Rock Original Free Will Baptist Church near his home.

A good cook, Dock operated a huge covered grill on which he prepared for parties, large or small, and often barbecued chickens during local fund-raisers. His garage became Dock’s tool and repair shop, where he was host to many visitors. Whenever group activities grew slow or dull, he surprised people with his bird calls and one-liners. Because of his fondness for fresh vegetables, Dock cultivated a small garden in his backyard as long as he was able.

Nobody loved life more than Dock Franklin. However, in the mid-nineties, he contracted an acute form of leukemia, received bone marrow from sister Katy, and spent numerous extended stays at UNC hospitals, where he died on July 17, 1999. He was a mere fifty-six years old! Since he could not die at home, he would have delighted in the knowledge that he departed this life in the bosom of his favorite college athletic teams, surrounded by his family and Carolina Blue.

Dock lies entombed in a mausoleum in Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Wilson, NC.

Submitted by Ronald J. Horton

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