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A former football star, a decorated military veteran and mentor to hundreds of students in the region, has died.

Richard Horn, principal of the Southern Adirondack Education Center in Kingsbury, part of the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES, leaves behind a 19-year legacy of helping students at the school.

Horn, of Poultney, Vermont, died of heart attack on July 6, his last day of vacation in North Carolina, according to his obituary. He was 65.

Anthony Muller, deputy district superintendent, said the news was a shock. Horn enjoyed his work over the years and was just planning his retirement.

“He was definitely a principal for the students,” Muller said. “He was a strong educator. He would do anything to help the students when they needed something.”

Horn was also an Army veteran. According to his obituary, “he attained the rank of captain, where he served in the 10th Mountain Division as Commander of A company, 10th Signal Battalion.” That was from 1990 to 1994.

He helped with the Hurricane Andrew Disaster Relief Operations in 1992 and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in 1993. He also served for a tour in West Germany.

Horn received the Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star Medal.

His service continued even after retiring from the Army. He was a lieutenant colonel in the Vermont Army National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009.

During that time, Horn kept in touch with students and the school to keep things running smoothly, Muller said, adding that “with his military skills, he knew how to get things done, too.”

Prior to his service in the military, Horn nearly became a a football player for the New York Jets. He played for Boston University, and after graduation, played with the Toronto Argonauts, part of the Canadian Football League. In 1977, he signed a contract with the Jets, but an injury ended his pro football career, according to his obituary.

Horn’s life path eventually turned toward teaching.

He was a guidance counselor at Mount St. Joseph’s Academy, then a vice principal at the Castleton Village School, before he became principal at the Southern Adirondack Education Center.

Looking through photos, Muller said he had trouble finding one of Horn because “he was all about the kids and didn’t want to be in the limelight.”

Visiting hours will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at the Roberts-Aubin Funeral Home, 266 Allen Ave., Poultney. A service will be held 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Raphael’s the Archangel Catholic Church in Poultney. Burial will follow with military honors in the St. Raphael’s Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Volunteer Fire Dept., Station 6 Rescue Squad, 24297 Atlantic Drive, Rodanthe, NC 27968.

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Reporter Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (518) 742-3238 or gcraig@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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