Andy Horner, benefactor of women’s ministry at Southwestern, dies

Elizabeth Bennett
| Jan 25, 2023

Andy Horner of Dallas, Texas, passed away on Jan. 21 at the age of 98. He and his late wife, Joan, were owners of Premier Designs, and were generous benefactors of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as First Baptist Church of Dallas and ministries around the world. 

Horner’s “life was a shining testimony to the Gospel in all areas of life,” said David S. Dockery, interim president of Southwestern Seminary. “Southwestern Seminary faculty and staff join me in expressing their deep gratitude for the significant contribution that Mr. Horner made to this campus through the years. We extend our prayers and sympathy to the family, even as we give thanks to God for the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Dockery said he was “privileged to meet and to get to know Andy Horner in the mid-1980s.”

Horner was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1924, and moved with his family to Canada in 1930. He met his first wife, Joan, when he was in elementary school. Many years later, he returned from World War II in August 1945. He and Joan wed in 1946 and moved to Dallas in 1950. 

Horner worked as a manager for many companies including S.C. Johnson, Xerox Corporation, and Home Interiors and Gifts before founding Premier Designs in 1985. Premier Designs was a successful business built on biblical principles and putting others first, according to the Horner family.

At Southwestern, the Horners were supporters of the women’s programs, both personally and through their company. They provided funds for the Horner House and supported the Dressed for Service ministry. Dressed for Service provides graduating female students and wives of graduating students new outfits for significant events such as graduation, job interviews, and ministry opportunities. The Horner House was opened in 2009 and was built as an academic building and meeting place for women. The Horner House now houses the Southwestern Women’s Center which provides a place for women to fellowship, study, take a break or get resources.

Calling Horner a “dear friend” and “a major financial supporter to Southwestern Seminary, in particular, the Women’s Ministry program,” Jack D. Terry Jr, interim vice president for institutional advancement, recalled the significance of the Horners' contributions to Southwestern female students. 

“The Horner House, that bears his name and houses the Women’s Ministry Program, stands as a monument to his love for Southwestern and for a women’s ministry training base that he, and his deceased wife, Joan, believed was a vital part of the ministry training at Southwestern,” Terry said. “Many women who have been called into ministry at Southwestern Seminary will be blessed by his generous contribution to their theological education. We will miss our dear friend as will many other Christian churches, schools, universities, and seminaries who have been the recipient of his loving gifting.”

The Horners provided the means to build the Andy and Joan Horner Family Center at First Baptist Church of Dallas. Located on the property of the old Cotton Exchange Building in downtown Dallas, the Horner Family Center includes 60 classrooms, six nurseries, five worship spaces, a coffee and snack bar, and a 6,500-square-foot gymnasium. 

Horner was preceded in death by Joan Horner in 2010. He is survived by his second wife, Sarah Hemingway Horner, and five children, Andrea, Tim, Mary, Sarah, and Tommy, 14 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. 

A celebration of life service will be held at First Baptist Church of Dallas on Feb. 4 at 2:00 p.m. To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family, please visit Restland Funeral Home’s Sympathy Store.