Niskayuna man honored for a life dedicated to community, education

Photo courtesy Marge Horan
Niskayuna resident and Schodack superintendent Bob Horan was honored on the floor of the New York senate in January. "He was an amazing father, first and foremost," said wife Marge Horan.Photo courtesy Marge Horan Niskayuna resident and Schodack superintendent Bob Horan was honored on the floor of the New York senate in January. "He was an amazing father, first and foremost," said wife Marge Horan.

BY KRISTIN SCHULTZ
Gazette Reporter

ALBANY — Passionate. Enthusiastic. Energetic. These are only three of the laudatory adjectives colleagues and friends use to describe Robert “Bob” Horan, the Niskayuna resident and Schodack Central School District superintendent who passed away suddenly last July 4.

On Jan. 24, state Sen. Kathy Marchione, D-Halfmoon, took to the floor and officially honored Horan’s life and legacy. In attendance were Horan’s wife Marge and three children.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” said Marge Horan. “But I wasn’t surprised. Bob was involved with legislative issues for education.”

That’s how Marchione knew him — a passionate advocate for children and education, willing to do whatever it took to do right by students.

“When money was tight he told me he was going to apply for any grant he could get his hands on,” said Marchione, who went on to call him an “exceptional human being.”

For all his professional accomplishments — starting a small business incubator in unused building spaces in exchange for business owner-student mentorships, laying out the vision for a $20 million capital campaign to renovate Maple Hill High School and countless other contributions — his legacy is one of personal compassion and commitment.

Bob Horan and Margery Halpin met as children. She was friends with his younger sister. Their families were friends, with Margery often tagging along on Horan family vacations. But Bob and Margery did not take romantic notice of each other until later.

“Early on he probably thought I was a little kid bugging him all the time,” said Marge. “I didn’t notice him in that way, either. We reconnected when I was 18 or 19. I was so blessed to be married to him for 28 years.”

Over the course of nearly three decades, the Horans had three children, all of whom attended Niskayuna schools and were involved throughout the district. Right there alongside his kids was Bob Horan.

“He coached Niskayuna club soccer when our kids were in it,” said Margery. “In high school, our boys played lacrosse and our daughter played soccer and pole vaulted and Bob was there on the sidelines.”

He wasn’t there just for his own children, but for friends’ and neighbors’ kids as well. Bob was a den leader for his nephews even when his own children were too young to be in Scouts.

Neighbors would often seek his counsel on issues they were experiencing with their kids.

“He would help them through difficult situations,” said Margery. “He could tell them how to have their children tested and what their rights were as parents.”

His love of education extended outside the public school classroom as he taught religious education classes to eighth- and ninth-graders at what is now St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish. Like other dads, he also helped his children with school projects, drawing on his experience teaching technology classes, sometimes with extraordinary results.

“I’d tell him, ‘Bob. The teachers are going to know the kids didn’t do this,’” said Margery. He’d dismiss her concerns, preferring to encourage and excite his children and instill in them his own love of learning.

When he wasn’t walking the halls of the Schodack schools — “I’m not going to be one of those superintendents who sits as his desk answering email all day,” he told Margery — he was out and about camping, snowmobiling and puttering in the yard. At Christmastime, he would play Santa Claus for students at Albany’s St. Anne Institute and at his own family events. His energy was boundless but he made sure his family took priority.

“He was an amazing father and husband first and foremost,” Margery said.

On his passing, people made donations to the school district in Bob’s name. Though it has only been seven months, Margery intends to direct those funds in a way that would honor her husband’s legacy.