Christopher Noble Horton

Christopher Noble Horton died Saturday, January 1,
2005, of leukemia (AML) at John Dempsey Hospital in
Farmington, Connecticut, after a fierce struggle with
the disease over more than eight excruciating months.
He was valiant to the very end, his dying synonymous
with his middle name.

Chris grew up in rural Saddle River, New Jersey.
After graduating from Amherst in 1958, he served in
the Army in Korea and earned a Master’s degree from
Wesleyan University. Passionate about the visual arts,
philosophy, and teaching, Chris developed programs
and taught innovative courses in painting, theory, and
experimental studio for 30 years at the Hartford Art
School of the University of Hartford. In 1997, he
received the University’s Roy E. Larsen Award for
Distinguished Teaching. He retired in 1999 and was
named a professor emeritus of experimental studio.

Chris leaves his wife, Sherry, and sons Joshua–and
daughter-in-law Allison–and Tobiah. He also leaves his
brother Timothy (Amherst ‘61), and his family.

Having spent three years “rooming together within
two feet of each other,” as our fellow roommate Dave
Stephens recently put it to me, we got to know each
other well: what follows are some of the things I
remember most vividly about Chris. First of all, he
was a big, strong guy at 6'2", weighing over two
hundred pounds, and a first-rate athlete. His specialty
was putting the shot, the object of which is to muscle a
sixteen-pound ball of iron farther than anyone else.
One day I watched him closely during practice;
watched as he curled his fingers around the shot,
cupping it gently in the crook of his neck, like a
concert-master cradling a Strad. Then he spun full tilt
and launched the shot explosively, at the same time
letting out an almost bestial roar. What stuck with me
over the years was how powerful he was, how
disciplined, how intense, and how determined to put
forth his very best–in which respects he never

Another way Chris remained constant was in his
championship of the new-and-different, the out-of-the-
ordinary, as in his introducing Dave and me to the
music of Shostakovich and Stravinsky, who could have
been from another planet. Through him, too, we made
the acquaintance of the Freudian psychologist Wilhelm
Reich–and to the possible efficacy of Reich’s “Orgone
Box” in enhancing and husbanding our abundant
youthful supply of “stored energy;” i.e.,what is now
called testosterone. Dave and I had our doubts about
this business (though we were intrigued), but it was
typical of Chris then, and throughout his life, to test
the edges, to “get people going,” by espousing the
unusual, even proposing the outrageous, in order to
push his students into examining and challenging the
status quo. It became a hallmark of his teaching
style; it marked his conversation with family and close
friends as well.

In our junior and senior years, Chris and Dave and I
lived on the second floor of Psi U, looking out over the
spacious lawn and venerable sycamores in front of the
house. In our livingroom was an old fireplace, no
longer operational but warmly decorative. Shortly
after we moved in, Chris carved the word “Averaducci”
on the lintel–as a way, perhaps, of making this part of
the house our home. “Averaducci” isn’t a real word,
but was Louis Armstrong’s version of “Arrivederci” as
belted out in the movie “High Society,” a favorite of
ours. It means goodbye, of course, but only until we
meet again. So I’d like to end this piece with a
heartfelt “Averaducci, Horts,” and a promise to meet
again soon–very specifically, at the public celebration
of your life and work to be held at the Hartford Art
School on June 26, 2005.

–Skip Fitchen ‘58