Everyday Dad


    “I always knew I wanted to have children,” says Webster PTA co-president Chet Horn. Perhaps he knew it even in the lazy summer days of his Pasadena childhood.

    For Horn, the third of six children, summer was the easy extension of a simpler life in simpler times. “None of us went to camp,” he says. “Our swimming pool was the focal point of the neighborhood.” Between his pals and those of his siblings, pool games never lacked players and Marco Polo lived until Labor Day.

    “Mom didn’t work. Little League was two blocks from the house. We all walked to high school.” And no kid was driven to hell and back for a playdate or a lesson.

    In the evenings, Horn was set a pretty good example of what hard work could accomplish. “When we were very young, Dad was in law school. We’d see him studying every night.” Howard Horn’s children saw him become an administrative law judge for the state Employment Development Dept.

    “My father was very active in our education. I remember when he bought one of those early speed-reading machines and taught us all how to speed read. To this day, I still read very fast, although I don’t use that particular method.”

    It’s a handy skill for an attorney to have. Horn works for the California Dept. of Justice, representing the Attorney General’s office in matters regarding charitable trusts, foundations and not-for-profit corporations. He has spent the past three years overseeing all sales of non-profit hospitals in the state and conversions to for-profit institutions.

    Even with extensive administrative experience, Horn says there’s always more to learn about running an organization effectively. At a statewide PTA convention in Sacramento last month, he attended seminars on management issues, on how to build consensus among board members and on parliamentary procedure.

    Beginning early last year, when Proposition X was under consideration, Horn sat on a facilities advisory committee to the school board. The committee developed a budget for structural and maintenance projects for each campus in the district, including gym, track and field improvements for Malibu High. The total price tag: $42 million.

    With former co-president Colleen O’Beirne Brydon, Horn also sat on a political advisory committee to determine the likelihood of passing the bond. Voters approved Proposition X last November.

    The soccer referee with six years on the Malibu AYSO board has much to say on fatherhood. “The biggest challenge is you need to know how to pay for it all.” Horn has four kids.

    “Managing their time so it doesn’t have enormous impact on your time,” is another challenge. Horn should know. Between Girl Scouts, chorus, three months of rehearsal for the high school musical, softball, Little League and four kids in soccer, Horn and his wife average six trips each day.

    Horn, who is on the job downtown at 6:30 a.m., ferries the kids to afternoon activities. Kathy Horn, an office administrator for Coldwell Banker in Malibu, takes them to and from school.

    “Seeing your children turn into wonderful little people, and wonderful big people, is a great reward,” says Horn. “When they get good report cards, when they do well in an essay contest and you attend the awards ceremony, when they join the math club and excel, that’s the real joy.”

    According to Horn, family life is about “day to day things. That’s the important stuff. It’s not promising big rewards every five years or every two years, but what you do every single day. That’s how you stay connected to your kids.”