Mansfield icon honored for 65 years of service

MANSFIELD – In September 1948, there were 48 states – Alaska and Hawaii wouldn’t gain statehood for another 11 years. The price of gas was 26 cents, only one in 10 Americans owned a television and Margaret “Fuzzy” Horton came to work for dining services at Mansfield University – and she never stopped coming.

Horton’s 65 years of service to Mansfield was celebrated with a special reception in May in Manser Hall, her work home of the past 44 years.

University administrators, co-workers, students and friends were on hand for the unveiling of a portrait of Horton, taken around the time she started work, surrounded by photos of dining services through the years.

During Horton’s tenure, the university’s name has gone from Mansfield State Teachers College to Mansfield State College to Mansfield University.

There have been 26 Mansfield presidents and she has worked under 12 of them. It will soon be 13 when 1979 graduate Fran Hendricks takes the helm.

He would be one of the thousands of students Horton has interacted with over the decades.

“Margaret’s longevity at Mansfield is truly remarkable,” MU Interim President Allan Golden said. “We live in an age when people change jobs with great regularity and staying with one employer for a lifetime has become extremely rare. We applaud you Margaret and thank you for your past and future service to Mansfield.”

“We hope that Margaret’s experience and all that she’s done will be an inspiration to the rest of us as employees at Mansfield University,” Chuck Colby, associate vice president for Residence Life, added. “And that, we too, will provide iconic service to the institution and be able to smile and engage students as positively as Margaret does.”

When Horton started, dining was in North Hall, now the library and main administration building, which also served as the women’s residence hall.

“We used to set tables in the dining room and had assigned seats,” Horton said. “We had our own greenhouse and we used to go there to cut flowers to put them on the tables.”

The opening of Manser Hall in 1969 and doing away with assigned seating for students brought a change in atmosphere she says.

“They were closer because we’d change tables and they met more boys and girls. There were four boys and four girls at a table and you’d sit at different tables, different nights so you knew more kids. This way, (present day) it’s like a clique. You have your own bunch and you stick with it.”

But through the changes, Horton has continued to connect with generation after generation of Mansfield students, becoming lifelong friends with many of them.

“They keep in touch with me, quite a few of them,” she said.

“I look forward to many more years of seeing her serve the Mansfield family,” Director of Dining Services Drew Robinson said. “Seeing her smiles, hearing her stories and her ‘gossip.’ God bless you, Margaret “Fuzzy” Horton. You’re truly one of a kind.”

And she does plan on being at Mansfield for many more years. Working a shorter work day is the only concession Horton had made to time. She won’t have any talk of retirement.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but I guess you just keep on going,” she said with a smile before heading back to the work she loves.