Two pillars of the Zachary community were remembered Sunday at a ceremony to rename the Zachary Community Center in their honor.
The families of the late David Horton and the late Jesse Spears gathered with friends, relatives and city leaders to share memories, give thanks to all who attended and witness the unveiling of the new sign for the David Horton-Jesse Spears Community Center.
“It didn’t matter if you were black or white or rich or poor with Mr. David and Mr. Jesse,” Zachary Mayor David Amrhein said March 13. “What mattered to them most was what was best for the community.”
Horton, who was 90 when he died in August 2014, was Zachary’s first black city councilman and served for 28 years in the position.
He was a retired teacher from Northwestern High School (known today as Zachary High) and involved in many civic clubs and organizations, some of which he helped start, such as the Foundation Assisting Zachary Education and the Zachary Chamber of Commerce.
Horton also was president of the Zachary Community Federal Credit Union and served as deacon and treasurer at Union Baptist Church.
His wife, Louise Horton, and their only son, Stewart Horton, attended the event, along with many relatives and friends.
Spears, who was 87 when he died in April 2015, was a retiree of Copolymer Rubber and Chemical Co., a U.S. Army veteran and chairman emeritus of the Deacon Ministry at New Pilgrim Baptist Church.
He was instrumental in getting the Zachary School District established, driving to Washington, D.C., and helping persuade legislators to allow Zachary to split from East Baton Rouge Parish to become an independent school district.
“I think what Jesse wanted most was for every child to get the best possible education,” Amrhein said.
Spears was appointed to the first Zachary Community School Board and served as a member of Kiwanis and of numerous civic organizations and associations.
His wife, Virginia, and the couple’s four surviving children, Connie Thornton and Carl, Ronald and Wayne Spears, attended the ceremony along with numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Carl Spears spoke on behalf of the family, saying, “We are extremely thankful for this honor.”
Amrhein added that the city’s goal with the renaming was to honor Horton and Spears, who both worked tirelessly for the welfare of the community and its children.
“It’s hard to measure all that they’ve done and contributed to Zachary,” Amrhein said.
The David Horton-Jesse Spears Community Center is at 5736 Rollins Road between the Zachary Men’s Club and the Zachary Food Pantry. The building is used for small community events and receptions.