D.R. Horton founder passes away

Founder remembered for leadership and dedication to affordable housing

D.R. Horton founder passes away

D.R. Horton, one of the largest homebuilders in the US, has announced the unexpected passing of its founder and chairman, Donald R. Horton (pictured).

Horton, 74, had served as the company’s chairman since its formation in 1991 and previously held the roles of president and CEO from 1991 to 1998.

“It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my friend and our company’s iconic founder and chairman, Don (‘DR’) Horton,” said David Auld, who has been appointed by the board as executive chairman effective immediately.

Auld paid tribute to Horton’s impact on the company and the homebuilding industry overall.

“Throughout the company’s 46-year existence, he worked tirelessly to build a national homebuilding operation with a strong company culture, and the impact of his personal involvement with our team of operators across the United States has contributed immeasurable value to our company and people,” he said.

From building his first home in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1978 as a local builder, Horton grew the business into the largest homebuilder in America by volume. Under his leadership, D.R. Horton enabled over one million American families to achieve homeownership.

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“We are all indebted to DR for his vision, tenacity and never-ending drive to continue to grow and improve our company,” Auld said. “While he is impossible to replace, we will strive to carry on his legacy of enabling the dream of homeownership for individuals and families across the United States.”

Horton pioneered a strategy of a decentralized operational model that empowered local leadership teams to make key business decisions like product offerings and pricing based on their respective markets - an unconventional approach at the time.

“The company’s local leadership teams have been and continue to be empowered to make local business decisions, such as product offerings, price points and home features,” the company’s statement read. “Today, we consider this important company tenet a critical ingredient to our past and future success.

“Over the years, Don traveled extensively, visiting the company’s field operations. During these visits, he made it a point to meet everyone in the sales offices, job sites and division offices, and he continually emphasized that the people in our operational teams are the key to our business success. Don was approachable and relatable to everyone he met and maintained an unassuming personal lifestyle, as he never forgot his humble beginnings and the hard work it took to succeed.”

Beyond his professional achievements, Horton is remembered for his humble, caring leadership style and commitment to treating employees like family. He founded a summer camp for employees’ children, created a foundation to assist staff impacted by natural disasters, and was known for personal acts of kindness toward workers.

Carl Harris, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, issued a statement honoring Horton as “an icon in the home building industry” who “left an indelible mark” by helping over one million families become homeowners.

“The nation’s home builders mourn the passing of Donald R. Horton. Don was an icon in the homebuilding industry, and the company he founded has been one of the leading homebuilding firms in the nation for nearly half a century,” Harris said.

Horton is survived by his wife Marty, sons Ryan and Reagan, daughters-in-law Stacy and Michelle, and four grandchildren. The company plans to announce details for a public memorial event at a later date.

The team at Mortgage Professional America extends its deepest condolences to Horton’s wife, family, and loved ones during this difficult time.

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