Ernest “Ernie” Horne, 83, died peacefully at his home March 5 after battling a long-term illness.
Horne was an active volunteer for the Human Rights Campaign, serving on numerous committees for the HRC Michigan Dinner, starting with the first Michigan Dinner in 1990. In 1996, HRC honored Horne with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“When I think about Ernie, I think about what a wonderful volunteer he was,” said long-time friend Myra Walman.
“Whenever you needed help he was right there. You probably can’t find a single LGBT organization in town that, when he was healthy, didn’t get either volunteer or financial help, or both, from Ernie.”
Horne was active in the LGBT community since 1979 when he became a member
of the Southeastern Michigan Gay and Lesbian Association. Later he served as an officer in the Association for Suburban People, then as a volunteer for the Michigan Organization for Human Rights. For several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Horne was president of the board of the Detroit Area Gay/Lesbian Council, an umbrella organization and forum for approximately 20-25 gay and lesbian organizations in metro Detroit. In the early ’90s, DAGLC produced several Pride celebrations, then known as PrideFest, in Royal Oak. Horne later served on the boards of the Forum Foundation and the Triangle Foundation, and on Triangle’s Board of Advisors. He was also a co-founder of the Gay and Lesbian Archives of Southeast Michigan, housed at Wayne State University.
Horne was born in Boston in 1926 and graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in library science. He served in the Navy during World War II, and in a 1996 interview with BTL, Horne said that he came out just after he was discharged from the Navy in 1946. “I was tormented in the service by my feelings, but I’ve always wished I’d come out sooner,” he said. “I didn’t even know that the Honolulu YMCA was a gay Mecca during the war, and I actually lived there for a short time – and I missed it!”
Soon after his discharge from the Navy, General Motors recruited Horne as a research librarian. He moved to Detroit in the late 1940s and worked at GM for almost 50 years before retiring from there in the early 1990s.
Horne told BTL that in 1969 he met a man with whom he had a relationship for over 30 years, although the unnamed partner insisted on strict limits on the relationship. The couple saw each other once a week, on Friday evenings. “None of my gay friends know who he is, and that’s how he prefers it,” said Horne in 1996.
Although Horne is survived by no biological family members, he leaves behind his long-time friends and primary caregivers Alan DeWolf, Walman and friend John DiDonato. He is also remembered by hundreds of LGBT activists and volunteers who knew and worked along side Horne on countless projects and events.
Ernie Horne’s life will be celebrated March 20 at 1 p.m. at Affirmations in Ferndale. Horne requested that in lieu of flowers, donations in his memory be made to The Forum Foundation, P.O. Box 3073, Center Line, MI, 48015. Arrangements have been made to have his remains cremated, and his ashes disbursed near Saugatuck later this year, per his final wishes.