Mass of Christian Burial for Joseph Lee Horner, 13, of Tracy, will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, December 9, 2022, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Tracy.  Visitation will be Thursday from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. with a Prayer Service at 7:00 p.m. at the Horvath Remembrance Center in Tracy.  Visitation will continue on Friday, one hour prior to the service, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.  Interment will follow the service at the Tracy Cemetery in Tracy.  Joseph would encourage attendees to wear Minnesota Vikings or other sports clothing.  Arrangements with the Horvath Funeral Service of Tracy.

Our superhero, Joseph Lee Horner was born on October 9, 2009, to Rick and Tammy (Heiderscheidt) Horner. Joseph spent his first 100 days fighting for his life in the NICU at Avera McKennen Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Joseph received the sacrament of baptism on the day he was born and was later blessed into the Catholic faith on May 2, 2010, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Tracy, Minnesota. Joseph was a sixth grader at Tracy Elementary School, which he enjoyed and loved so dearly thanks to his para, classmates, teachers, and other school staff.  From the day that Joseph was born, he was the anchor that brought many people together. He touched and changed the lives of everyone he met, and even those he didn’t meet. Even though Joseph was nonverbal, he had a way to communicate and express his love with a look, a smile, and a blink of his eye. That precious smile of his would quite literally light up the whole room.  There were many things Joseph couldn’t do. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t do many things that people take for granted. When some people looked at him, that is what they saw. But that is not what we saw, and that is not who Joseph was. We saw the many things that he could do. He could smile. He could feel uncontrolled happiness. He could love without condition. He could show his love without ever saying a word.  Joseph was a teacher and inspiration for all he met. He inspired those around him to be better.  One of the things he taught us was the gift of perspective. Joseph reminded us that most of our problems are not really problems, and to be grateful for what we have. Joseph placed his trust in his family and caregivers to care for his needs day after day.  It was through this that Joseph taught us the gifts of love, kindness, dedication, and patience. Joseph also taught us the gift of unconditional love. It was through Joseph that we learned that love is much deeper than words and how to love without limits. Joseph showed us what it meant to be strong, as he kept going day after day, long after others would have given up. We could look to Joseph for an example of perseverance and inner strength, as he continued to fight his battles in health.  Joseph was a gift from God.  For all the ways he taught us about life and love, for all the ways he inspired us to be better, and for all the love he gave us while he was here with us, he was a gift to us. The best gift he gave us, was his very life.

Joseph beautifully entered into eternal paradise on December 1, 2022, at Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota surrounded by his family. Joseph’s legacy will forever live on through his parents Rick and Tammy Horner of Tracy, sisters Courtney Horner (Noah Slettum) of Slayton, Lindsey Horner (Koyer Wendorff) of Tracy, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Nurses and caregivers, and many other relatives and friends. He is preceded in death by his grandparents Bob and Ann Horner, Joe Heiderscheidt, Leonard and Darlene Macht, and Uncle Curt Horner.

The family would like to acknowledge and thank the multitude of people that helped to provide the best life possible for Joseph. They are too numerous to mention, but include his relatives, friends, nurses, PCAs, therapists, teachers and doctors. We would especially like to acknowledge Gillette Children’s Hospital for the wonderful care provided over his lifetime.

May his memory be a blessing to all who knew him.