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Jan Horton, Titan in Ozarks Nonprofit, Fundraising Realms, Dies at 87

Community Foundation of the Ozarks


A giant in the Springfield philanthropic and nonprofit community has died. Jan Horton was the first employee of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, serving from 1988 to 2003. She died Sunday at the age of 87 following a brief illness, according to the CFO.

The CFO announced Horton’s passing online, praising her work in helping expand the organization’s reach in the Ozarks.  She began in 1988 as Executive Director, and she saw the organization move from being an all-volunteer organization through to becoming a robust foundation. She served as president from 1993 until she retired in 2003.

When Horton joined the CFO, then called the Community Foundation of Greene County, the organization had $1.7 million in charitable assets. When she retired in 2003, that number had skyrocketed to $52.5 million. 

Suzy Gray was the second-longest serving employee at the CFO. Horton hired her in 1989. Gray, now retired, says Horton took a “leap of faith” by leaving her job at Ozarks Public Television to work for the non-profit as its first paid employee and hiring Gray as the Chief Financial Officer. Gray says one of Horton’s greatest attributes was her ease in getting donors to invest in the community foundation. 

“I was just really impressed with Jan," Gray recalled. "She was very professional, and she was so well respected in the community, that it didn’t take me long to figure that out.” 

After retiring, Gray says Horton’s “zest for life” kept her involved in the community and pursuing other passions like the outdoors and birdwatching. 

Today, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks is the region’s largest public charitable foundation with assets around $375 million and affiliate foundations in more than 50 communities.

Josh Conaway is a graduate of Missouri State University with a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Affairs. He works as a news reporter and announcer at KSMU. His favorite part of the job is exploring the rich diversity of the Ozarks and meeting people with interesting stories to share. He has a passion for history and running.