Horn was best known in the Long Beach area for her work in education and the arts. She was an essential partner with the late Steve Horn in his career both as president of California State University, Long Beach (1970–1988) and as a member of the United States Congress (1993–2003).
At CSULB, she was instrumental in attracting community support to the campus and played a significant role in cultivating many major gifts, including the Isabel Patterson Child Development Center, the President’s Home, the International House, the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, and the Martha Knoebel Dance Theater. She was also very active with the Fine Arts Affiliates and the International Community Council.
In the community, she chaired the Long Beach Unified School District’s 100-member committee that proposed desegregation guidelines and the magnet school plan in 1979. She served for 10 years on the Long Beach Unified School District’s Personnel Commission.
She was president of Long Beach’s Public Corporation for the Arts and led the effort in 1984 that persuaded the City Council to provide funds through the Arts Council for Long Beach arts organizations. She also served on the boards of the California Community Foundation, the Greater Long Beach Community Foundation, Family Service of Long Beach, and the Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, among other civic organizations.
Her role in her husband’s political career was also critical. Her friends represented most of the volunteers that powered an all-volunteer campaign that won five elections. After Steve was elected, she worked in the office each day as a volunteer and escorted thousands of visitors around the U. S. Capitol and to the White House.
She grew up in Lodi, California; graduated with distinction in history and the humanities from Stanford University in 1953; and received a certificate from the Program in Business Administration of Radcliffe College/Harvard Business School in 1954, prior to the formal admission of women to the Harvard Business School.
She leaves two children, Marcia of Phoenix, and Stephen of Long Beach, and a grandson, Jonathan Horn of Phoenix.
In 2003, her role at CSULB and in the community was honored when the university’s North Campus Library was renamed the Steve and Nini Horn Center by the Trustees of the California State University.
A celebration of her life will be held at a later date.