The Legacy Society
The Legacy Society
Meet Our Legacy Society Members
A Farmer's Wife Creates a Legacy of Hope

Meet Legacy Society Member Doris Horner

Doris and Reynold Horner
Doris and Reynold Horner

Doris Horner describes her late husband, Reynold "Pat" Horner, as "just one of those behind-the-scenes good guys."

"Family was extremely important to him," said Doris, 81, who recently established a charitable gift annuity for The ALS Association. "He enjoyed the wide-open spaces and farming-that was his life."

Both from Illinois farming towns, Doris and Pat met through a mutual friend and married in 1952. They settled on Pat's family farm in northwestern Illinois and raised a son, Mark, and a daughter, Ann, who eventually became a full colonel in the U.S. Army.

Even into his 60s, Pat was still active and enjoying the farming life, with Mark at his side. But in late 1994, he began having trouble lifting the front of his foot-a condition called "drop foot." A local doctor diagnosed him with ALS after just two appointments.

"I remembered the Lou Gehrig story, but I had never known anyone with ALS," Doris said. "I couldn't believe it. It was very hard to accept at first."

Their small community rallied around them, with friends coming by often to help and to play cards. One friend even built a special card holder for him. Meanwhile, Mark took over the farm and helped his mother care for Pat at home.

After her husband's death in 2000, at the age of 71, Doris learned about The ALS Association and began making annual donations. But earlier this year, she decided she wanted to do something more and established a charitable gift annuity, which provides donors with guaranteed income for life in exchange for a gift of cash or stock.

"It just seemed like the best way to go," she explained simply. "As the saying goes, 'I'm not rich, but I'm not a pauper, and I had some money I thought I could make useful to support the fight against ALS."

Doris still lives on the farm where she and Pat spent their lives, and she keeps busy playing piano, helping with music contests at local schools and serving as a part-time organist at her church. She has three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

"ALS is such a devastating disease; we need to find a solution for it," she said. "It feels good to know that I'm doing something to move that effort forward."

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