Betty Horaney is from Deep East Texas. A Marshall native, she grew up as one of eight children. Her parents were a team, and this made a positive impression on her. “Mother always worked with my father,” she said. “It was not ‘This is mine’ and ‘That is his.’ Mother always supported my father.”
She lived this example as she grew into a lovely young woman and fell in love. She was 16 when she attended a party and met Albert. At first she did not let this serious romance stop her education as she enrolled in college, but after two years Albert told her, “You do not need college. You need to marry me.” They were married in 1958, and remained lovebirds for decades.
Her father-in-law Harry Horaney had immigrated to this country from Syria, and in 1940 he opened Horaney’s Feed Store at 207 North Court Street in Longview. She and Albert worked at the store for Harry until he died in 1977, when Albert, Betty and their family took over its operation as an ongoing family enterprise.
The business expanded and branched out to keep up with changing times, moving to 301 West Methvin in 1993. After Albert passed on in 1996, Court Street was renamed Horaney Street. Nowadays, Betty and son Ron still operate Horaney’s, and have recently branched out, opening a new store in Marshall.
Betty has never had any reservations about her lifelong conviction to helping her husband. He would rise as early as 3:00 a.m. and head off to work. She would rise with him, feed him breakfast, and after getting sons Al and Ron off to school, she would head for the store to lend her beloved spouse a hand. Always, she saw herself as his partner.
“This is not to say your husband is over you,” she explains. “I did not want to run the store. I was there to help him.” She elaborates further on this profitable arrangement. “I ran the house, and he ran the store,” she said. “We had an understanding of what we should be doing in our family. He asked my opinion about the store. This is what is missing in marriages today–people do not want to share.”
To this day, her love remains as strong as ever for her Albert. He died after 37 years of marriage. She never remarried. Albert was too hard of an act to follow. Her mother also adored him. “He was my heart,” Betty sobs. “He was the love of my life. He was a special person.” Her customers felt the same affection and loyalty. They shared their sorrow and strength with Betty upon Albert’s death. “I was truly overwhelmed with the love and response that people showed me,” she says. “Longview has been a good town.”
Through her business, Betty is doing all she can to return the favor. Horaney’s, Inc. supports such worthy causes as 4H, college scholarships, the Thanksgiving Food Drive and much, much more. Helping the hungry is a hefty chore, but Betty does not shrink from it. This past Thanksgiving 800 needy families received food parcels. For her, this drive is its own reward. “That is what caring for people is all about,” she explains. She also uses her house of worship, Trinity Episcopal Church, as a means to help the less fortunate, providing for the homeless via New Gate Ministries.
Being a positive part of others’ lives is of great importance to Betty. Apart from her work with the Garden Club, she is a founding member of a group of widows that started out with eight members. It has now grown to 16 ladies who meet in Betty’s home on Sundays. They support each other with food, games, fun fellowship and offering mutual assistance for each others’ concerns and needs. They love playing a game they call “Mexico.” Her industrious nature is ever apparent as she continues working as hard as ever at age 76. She still works at the store from 9:00 a.m. until 5:45 p.m.
“I am not retiring,” she declares. “I enjoy coming to the store, visiting people, and helping them take care of their lawns, garden and farms.” It is, once again, a lesson she learned from her own dear mother. She keeps the coffee pot full and hot.
“We keep the coffee pot going,” she said. “I try to keep it going like Albert.” Pleasant conversation over coffee is an integral tradition in this business whose patrons are more like family. “We have the best group of customers,” she said. “I want people to feel that they can always come to Horaney’s. We have a cup of coffee waiting for them.” Yet her culinary expertise extends far beyond the coffee pot. Cooking and hospitality are two more of her treasured traits–once again picked up from her mother.
“I enjoy cooking and taking it to people,” she said. “Mother’s home was open to everyone. On Sundays, people would come by after they had their Sunday dinner and walk down the hallway to her kitchen, open her pots and help themselves.”
Her lifetime of hard work has not gone unnoticed outside her community, either. Hers was one of scores of small businesses that competed for the Texas Small Business of the Year program sponsored by Baylor University’s Institute for Family Business. Horaney’s was one of those operations to be recognized after a panel of judges took into consideration such factors as family involvement, community and industry involvement, and business success and succession. Betty Horaney still rises at 6:30 every morning. She believes it keeps her healthy. She must be right, for at age 76 she still takes no medication.
“God has truly blessed me, so I am sharing it,” she said. “America is not about what can be done for you. It is about what you can do for others.”