Citizens remember longtime Columbiana Police Chief Horn

Published 7:25 am Friday, May 1, 2020

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer 

COLUMBIANA — To those who knew Howell Horn, he was a dedicated public servant and someone who took his role seriously.

The longtime Columbiana police chief died Monday, April 27 at the age of 83. He served as chief, lieutenant and patrolman between 1970 and 2000, and was a lifelong resident of the city.


“He was always known for helping people, and he felt that serving and being a police officer was his calling,” said daughter Marsha Harbin. “He was a friend to everyone and was always willing to help them.”

Stories abound from Horn’s days in law enforcement, and the memories people share run the gamut from touching to humorous. Harbin described her father as a “peacemaker,” citing an incident in which Horn stood in the back of a pickup truck and proceeded to calm people down in a moment of civil unrest.

He was known for his unwavering support of Shelby County High School, escorting football players and band members to away games and directing traffic at the high school and Columbiana Middle School. His late wife, Laura, taught senior English for 37 years.

An avid Auburn fan, Horn attended Auburn University and also graduated from the University of Montevallo with a degree in business.

“I loved my friend. He was one of the good guys,” wrote Susan Redhead Conn in a Facebook post. “So glad he is back with his beloved Laura. He missed her so much.”

Conn shared a story about Horn helping to capture a snake in her basement:

“Many years ago, probably 1971 or ’72, we lived in the old Tidmore house at Looney Road and I had gone down to the basement. There was a huge snake (lying) up on the ledge. I went running back upstairs. Screaming my head off, I called the police. Well,  Howell Horn came and I met him at the car. ‘Get your gun out, there is a huge snake in the basement.’ He goes down in the basement and comes back up and I said, ‘Did you shoot it?’ He said, ‘No, I’m leaving it.’ ‘Oh no, you’re not. You have got to shoot it…’ He said, ‘I can’t shoot at a concrete wall.’ I said,  ‘Yes you can…Do something!’ So he took a rake and brought the snake back up! My heart was beating so fast.”

Retired Columbiana Police Chief Lamar Vick also had some memories to share. Horn hired Vick in 1983 when he first began his career as a police officer.

“Once we were at the range to practice with our new Glock automatic pistols. Not being used to the new weapon, he shot the stapler someone had left near the target. From that point on we made sure the stapler was put away before he shot. After hundreds of rounds of ammunition, he finally got familiar with his new weapon,” Vick recalled.

He described Horn as a “very easy-going person” and “a good friend and boss.”

“After he retired, we remained good friends,” Vick said. “He still stopped by the police department to tell me what I needed to do. I had a lot of respect for Chief Horn. He will be missed.”

A private graveside service was to be held at Pinelawn Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, the family requested memorials be made to the Independent Presbyterian Church Foundation, 3100 Highland Ave., Birmingham, AL 35205.
People may sign online condolences at