Some people considered 73-year-old James Hornes a friend or a brother, others only knew him as the hard-working man who mowed their lawns, while a few remember him as the friendly guy riding his bike around Sour Lake; but they all agree he was a fixture of Sour Lake.
Hornes was reported missing in January. On March 8, his body was found in a Sour Lake oil field. Initially, officials suspected it was him and Hardin County Sheriff Mark Davis has now confirmed that it was Hornes.
Donations are being accepted to help with final expenses and a memorial. An account is set up at BBVA Compass Bank and checks can be made out to James Horn Memorial Fund.
Julie Tucker, one of the organizers of the vigil, said that a plot and headstone have been donated so far in addition to around $2,400 toward the expenses.
Hornes’ final resting place will be at Pine Grove Cemetery in Grayburg, Tx. The service date is pending.
On the evening of Saturday, March 17, many people gathered in Lions Park to pay respects and honor “Mr. James” at a candlelight vigil organized by some community members including Julie Tucker, Jay Jacobson, Tabitha Boyd, Pastor Clarence Russell, Shodi Jacobson, Alice Cooper, and Russell Trest.
Near the makeshift stage was a bicycle hubcap decorated with ribbon and flowers and a table that held a photo of Hornes along with a book for attendees to sign. A bicycle wrapped in lights with ribbon and balloons was brought to the vigil in honor of Hornes.
Sour Lake Mayor Bruce Robinson welcomed the crowd to the vigil and said he did not know Hornes, but the fact that someone in his town has died caused him sadness. He said, “This is a person that God created, we all are. Life matters.”
Pastor Clarence Russell gave the opening prayer and then the crowd joined together to sing the hymn, Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord.
Pastor Pete Galston, of Mount Rose FBC, was a friend of Hornes and spoke at the vigil. “God is good and is good all the time. Even in times like these. He’s still good,” said Galston.
“What an outstanding show of love,” said Pastor Leo Lane, Sr. (former pastor of Williams Chapel).
Pastor Clarence Russell (Growing in Christ’s Image) comforted those in mourning, saying, “Brothers and sisters, Satan hasn’t won this deal just because James’ presence is no longer among us here. Satan did not win. You want to know why? Paul told the Corinthian church that love never fails. I’m looking at it right here.”
Several people then lined up to share their memories of Hornes. One woman noted that she works just a quarter mile from where his body was found. “It hurt me so bad that he had been spending that time alone. Then I got to thinking he wasn’t alone. He wasn’t there anymore. He was gone and he was not alone.”
A man who is a native of Sour Lake and grew up with Hornes said, “He was the kind of person that would give you anything he had.”
One woman who shared her memories said Hornes mowed her mother’s yard. “It’s so good when you can’t say anything bad about someone. He was a loving person.”
She continued to say, “The devil meant it for bad, but God turned it around for good to show this is a loving town. When you mess with us we come together, whether black, white, green, purple, we come together.”
A neighbor of Hornes for 14 years said he was a very humble man and she felt proud to be a citizen of Sour Lake. “We are little in numbers but big in love,” she said.
The son of organizer Julie Tucker, spoke to the crowd and perhaps said it best of Mr. James, “He may have had little, but he did not have little love.”
Candles were passed out and lit and then white balloons released to the night sky over Lions Park.
This community has come together due to the tragedies they experienced this year, first the devastation of Harvey and now the loss of one of their life-long residents. The theme of the evening seemed to be despite the sadness felt because of recent events, they appreciate that their tight-knit community supports one another.