James Edwin Horton, Jr.
Ed Horton was born in Decatur and throughout much of his early education he studied to be a medical doctor. He began working during summers at his father’s cattle farm. This work piqued his interest in animal husbandry, and the medical profession’s loss has turned into a big gain for agriculture.
In 1940, Ed enrolled at the University of Tennessee in animal husbandry. World War II interrupted his studies, but not his pursuit of excellence. He served with distinction in Europe, winning a Bronze Star for service during the Battle of the Bulge.
He finished his degree in 1947, and in 1948, he returned to manage the family farm. The centerpiece of the farming operation since 1925 has been a registered Angus herd, which is the oldest in the South. In addition, Horton Farms includes about 1,600 acres of cotton, 200-300 acres of soybeans and wheat, and forage and corn to feed the cattle.
In addition to his agricultural accomplishments, Ed also served four years as a state senator. Through more famous for leading opposition to Governor George Wallace succeeding himself, Ed considers his role in writing and passing the Rural Water and Fire Protection Act his top legislative achievement. This legislation made it possible for unincorporated rural areas to purchase water systems for the first time.
Ed has a strong, close-knit, extended family. His wife of 39 years, Ann Williams Horton, died in 1985. He and his current wife, Mary Alice Horton, have an extended family that includes Ed’s daughters, Susan Horton Faulkner and Jenny Horton Robertson, both of Birmingham, Mary Alice’s four children, and Greg Blythe, who was married to Ed’s oldest daughter, the late Jean Horton Blythe, and his family.