Loretta Horn Kibler of Commerce passed away peacefully at home surrounded by her family on Monday, March 5, 2018.
Born in Cooper, Texas, on May 15, 1942, she was the daughter of Jake and Thelma Horn. The family later resided in Fairlie. Loretta attended elementary school in Fairlie and then graduated from Commerce High School in 1960. The excellent teachers at Commerce High School provided a foundation which enabled her to pursue higher education and influenced her decision to become an educator.
In 1964 she earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from East Texas State Teachers College and later earned a Masters in Elementary Education from East Texas State University. She also completed educational certifications for mid-management and superintendency.
She married her high school sweetheart Gary Weldon Kibler on October 26, 1963, and they settled on a farm in Campbell. She then began a 31-year career in education. She spent 14 years as a classroom teacher for Quinlan ISD, St. Paul’s Private School in Greenville, East Texas State University and Commerce ISD.
She served as an administrator for Commerce ISD for 17 years – three years as Commerce Middle School principal, seven years as assistant superintendent and seven years as superintendent. She retired in 2001. To date, Loretta and her brother, Dr. John Horn, are the only brother and sister to simultaneously serve as superintendents in the state of Texas.
She believed that community involvement and partnership with the university were critical to the success of the school district. As part of that partnership with the university, she was instrumental in securing the land upon which the new high school would be built. Upon her retirement, the library in the high school was named in her honor.
Loretta was active in many educational and community organizations. She served as president of the Commerce Rotary Club, president of the Commerce Chamber of Commerce, president of Phi Delta Kappa, board secretary of Commerce United Way, vice president of the Hunt County Family Services Board, and board member of the Hunt Regional Hospital Foundation. She was a member of the Texas Association of School Administrators, the Region 10 Advisory Council, Delta Kappa Gamma, and the Founding Board of the Northeast Texas Children’s Museum.
As part of her desire to enrich educational opportunities in Commerce, she played a critical role in the establishment of the Commerce Schools Educational Enrichment Foundation, which awards grants to teachers. After her retirement, she served on the foundation board.
Loretta was an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Commerce. She was a co-teacher for the Dough Rollins Sunday School Class and served on multiple committees. She was also a member and teaching director of the Community Bible Study in Greenville and so enjoyed studying the Bible and the relationships she built there.
After witnessing the tremendous support that hospice can provide to families, she became a volunteer for Vitas Hospice in Hunt County and the surrounding areas.
In recognition of her accomplishments professionally and her contributions to the community, Loretta was awarded Employer of the Year Award, the Visionary Award, the Rotary Paul Harris Award and the Citizen of the Year Award. She was inducted into the Commerce ISD Hall of Honor in 2011.
Loretta came from a family of nine children and family was so important to her. In addition to celebrating many holidays and special occasions, they gathered for an annual family reunion. She was a devoted wife to Gary for 49 years, mother to her daughters, Cindy and Dian, and to her five precious grandchildren who adored their Mimi. Loretta often said her grandchildren were the light of her life.
She also loved to travel and after her retirement spent many happy summers in the beautiful mountains of Lake City, Colorado, with her husband Gary, and new friends. She especially loved when family members joined them there.
Loretta was preceded in death by her parents, sisters Donna Thetford and Carolyn Gordon, and her husband Gary.
She is survived by her two daughters, Cindy Redman and her husband Jeff of Allen, and Dian Underwood and her husband Wes of Commerce; five grandchildren, Connor, Alex and Garrett Redman of Allen, and Allie and Sam Underwood of Commerce; her brother James of Campbell, her sister Valee of Lindale, her brother John of Fairlie, her sister Jenny of Whitehouse, her sister Brenda of Germantown, Tennessee, and her sister Sherry of Austin; many nieces and nephews and other extended family members.
Visitation will be held at First United Methodist Church of Commerce on Wednesday, March 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The funeral will be held at the church on Thursday, March 8 at 1:30 p.m. Loretta will be laid to rest at Sonora Cemetery, alongside her husband, Gary Kibler, and her parents.
Pallbearers are Ronnie Huie, Marley Huie, Mike Horn, Larry Horn, Mark White, Brad Gordon, Brent Gordon, Greg Horn, Andrew Jeter, Edward Latson, John Kibler, Randy Dunn and Billy McWhirter.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that gifts in Loretta’s memory be made to the Texas A&M University – Commerce Foundation, Gary W. and Loretta Horn Kibler Endowment, PO Box 3425, Commerce, Texas 75429.