Parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Malverne, as well as thousands of former students and fellow teachers at Willow Road Elementary School in Franklin Square, mourned the loss of Jane Horning, who many considered to be a true pillar of the local community. She died on Oct. 28 after a prolonged battle with Parkinson’s disease. She was 86.
Those who knew Horning said that she dedicated her life to the service of others, as she would always go out of her way to help people, even to the point of pushing her personal goals aside to help others achieve theirs. As a teacher at Willow Road School in Franklin Square, Horning excelled in not just teaching, but also reaching the students in her care, constantly ensuring that even the shyest students felt comfortable in the classroom and at school.
In November 1965, when her brother-in-law was tragically killed in a work-related accident over Thanksgiving weekend at just 29 years old, Horning willingly sacrificed all her time and comfort to move in with her sister full time, and with no children of her own, she quickly became a second mother to her sister’s five children, who were all under the age of 6 at the time.
Horning’s life was seemingly filled with these kinds of unexpected challenges, yet she rose to the occasion each and every time — often without being asked — to do whatever she could to help her family, students, friends, and her fellow parishioners at OLL.
Countless stories have poured in since Horning died from students and fellow parishioners alike, all of whom testify to the impact she had on them, none of which came as any shock to her sister, brother-in-law, friends, or her many nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and even great-great niece and nephew, so many of whom knew her as simply “Aunt Jane.”
At her heavily-crowded wake services earlier this month, mourners paid tribute to Horning’s selflessness, and how willing she was to put all inconveniences of weather and circumstance out of mind, going out of her way to bring communion to the sick and the elderly, teach religious education classes and lend a hand in any way she could for as long as her body and mind would allow.
The Rev. Michael Duffy, the Rev. Peter Gary, and Deacon Rich Portuese all presided over her funeral service at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Nov. 2, and Deacon Darrell Buono from St. Brigid’s in Westbury, who met the many mourners at the cemetery, was already well-advised of the saintly woman whose body he would help lay to rest.
“I’m not authorized to canonize anyone,” Buono told the large crowd, “but it sounds to me like this woman — your sister, aunt, and friend — was as deserving of sainthood as anyone else could possibly be.”
Friends, former students and loved ones are encouraged to continue reaching out to Horning’s family with stories and reflections of her life, all of which will be shared widely with love. A Facebook page, “Family of The Late Miss Jane Horning,” welcomes anyone’s memories and messages of condolence.