Christopher Demetri Horner, age 52, passed away peacefully at home with family by his side on December 28th following a courageous 16 month battle with Pancre atic Cancer. Chris was the youngest child of Matina and Joseph Horner and grew up in Cambridge. He attended BB&N, then Harvard College, graduating Cum Laude with a degree in Computer Science. Chris was a self-directed learner from birth, learning to read by the time he was 18 months old by watching Sesame Street. In April,1990, the Harvard Gazette wrote, “When Chris Horner ’91 was 3 years old he astounded a friend of the family by correctly reading aloud the complete menu at Brigham’s Ice Cream Parlor. Not long afterward, he picked up the Wall Street Journal and read several stories aloud without faltering.” He loved an intellectual challenge and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. He went on to earn a JD from Boston College Law School, and both an MBA and a Master of Science from MIT, where his thesis project at the Media Lab was an innovative audio news browser that anticipated the rise of online media. Chris was one of several authors who received a patent for this work. Chris worked as a Web Site Editor and Program Manager at Microsoft in Seattle, and later as a Consultant at Corporate Executive Board in Washington D.C.
Chris had many things to be proud of professionally, but because he was so humble, even those closest to him knew only a fraction of what he had accomplished. It was telling that among his most prized possessions and treasured memories which he had collected in a notebook before his death, were two drawings from his then two year old niece whom he adored. Also included were three of his published letters to the editor of the Wall Street Journal (the only three he ever submitted!), accolades from his students when he was a Teaching Fellow at Harvard, the only A+ ever given on a final by his Professor in Western Culture and Technology, copies of his numerous scholarly publications, and a posting showing that he had three of the top ten most frequently downloaded articles by members of the Applications Executive Council. After meeting Norman Lear at a University event, Chris shared with him some plays he had written. Mr. Lear wrote to Chris and included five scripts of plays and TV shows of his own, inviting Chris’ comments and encouraging him to keep writing.
In addition to his academic interests and passions, Chris had a wide range of interests and hobbies. Despite his illness he continued to exercise his mind listening to lectures and competing with his mom on crossword puzzles. He loved Jeopardy and any sort of trivia, always being the first one chosen for any trivia team and always on the winning team. He liked nothing better than discussing movies and TV shows with friends and family. He had a wonderful dry sense of humor and loved watching Shawn the Sheep, the Muppets and Toy Story. Chris had a love of travel and music, and he and his father Joseph frequently attended concerts at the Longy School of Music. Chris loved gardening, dining, skiing and biking, and could often be seen biking at his leisurely pace all over Cambridge. Finally, we will never forget nor fully understand, Chris’s attachment to his beloved flip phone.
Despite an accomplished professional career and a wide range of interests, Chris cared most deeply about his family and friends, and his first priority was always his relationships. He retired at a young age to devote himself to caring for his father Joseph during his own battle with cancer until he died in 2008. Chris remained commit ted to helping his family and doing volunteer work until the end of his life.
Chris had a gentle nature and and an unparalleled thoughtfulness towards those he loved. His nephew noted that, “Chris was the only person he has ever known who never said an unkind word about anybody.” Chris was unconditionally devoted to his family and friends, and they to him. He made friends wherever he went, touching the hearts of all, including the doctors and nurses who cared for him. Chris was a quiet and understated old soul, often a man of few words, but always words that were thought fully chosen and on point. He never failed to say thank you or find ways to make others smile, no matter how much pain he was quietly enduring.
Chris lived a full life, true to his core values. He was a true Renaissance Man: a gentleman, a gentle man, and a scholar. His quiet humility and generosity were both touching and inspiring, and will be forever missed. His legacy of kindness and character will endure well beyond the time he shared with us.
Chris leaves behind his mother Matina Horner, his brother John, his sister Tia, his nephew Jack, his niece Sarah, his aunts Joanne, Maryann and Deborah, his uncle Arthur and his goddaughter Arianna, along with many beloved cousins and lifelong friends.
Please visit the website www.christopherdhorner.com to see pictures, listen to Chris’s favorite music, make a donation in his memory and find updated information on forthcoming plans for a Celebration of Life.
Gifts in memory of Chris may also be directed to:
1. The Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Support of Pancreatic Cancer Research. Attention: Meagan Coons, MGH Development Office125 Nashua Street. Suite #540, Boston, MA. 02114 Checks payable to MGH Cancer Center, please reference ‘Christopher Horner Tribute’ in the Memo Line.
2. The Christopher Horner Scholarship Fund at The Longy School of Music of Bard College. Attention: Allison Cooley 27 Garden St. Cambridge, MA. 02138 Checks payable to Longy School of Music of Bard College, please reference ‘Christopher Horner Scholarship Fund’ in the Memo Line.