Have You Met?

John Horan is the antithesis of what most people normally associate with a funeral director. For many, the image that comes to mind is of a cold, and somber person, but John Horan is anything but. He’s not only warm, genuine and caring, but he has an incredible sense of humor and a truly passionate outlook on life.

As the President of Horan & McConaty Funeral Service/Cremation, John is the fifth generation of his family to make this his life's work. Since he purchased Horan & McConaty in 1986, it has more than quadrupled in size to become the largest independently owned firm of its kind in the Rocky Mountain Region and has received numerous distinguished awards for business and ethical superiority.

Much of this success is due to his love of what he does. “I feel so blessed because I have the opportunity to make changes that affect people’s lives every day.” He says. “But I also need balance so I keep a sense of humor and fun.”

John’s other passions include scuba diving (he’s traversed the globe and logged over 100 dives), his family (he’s been married to wife Andrea going on 22 years and has four children), and changing Colorado law to make funeral services more regulated.

“It’s a travesty that Colorado is the only state with no regulations surrounding this type of work.” He says. “There should be minimum standards and unannounced inspections. As it stands now, anyone can hang a shingle outside their door and call themselves a funeral director, an embalmer or a cremationist with absolutely no training.” John is taking action through his role on the Funeral Directors Association legislative committee and encouraging our legislature to enact some minimum standards and unannounced inspections.

John’s other passion is the Hospice of Metro Denver, where he is the Chairman of the Board for the second time; the last time was in 1986. “I just love hospice.” He says. “There isn’t anything in my life that resonates more for me than how our society cares for people who are dying and who are grieving. It’s as if I was born to do this and I’m extremely passionate about the importance of hospice care. I am so proud to be involved with a group of people who quietly and consistently reach out every single day to those people who are dying and those who survive the person who’s dying. I could not be more honored to be a part of that.”

John is also a frequent and much sought after lecturer and writer on death, dying, bereavement, and funeral services. He has spoken to numerous groups and been featured in several publications on topics that range from Columbine, Competing With The Catholic Church, and The Legal Aspects of Funeral and Cemetery Care, to Funeral Planning and Coping With Grief.

Any dreams still unfulfilled for John Horan? “ I’d really love to be able to speak fluent Spanish,” he says, “and I want to scuba dive with all three of my children.”

Favorite Restaurant: The Wellshire Inn. My wife and I love the food, and the intimate setting and atmosphere.

Which social event is your favorite? The Mask Project for Hospice of Metro Denver

What are your volunteer activities? I’m the Chairman of the Hospice of Metro Denver, an Advisory Board Member for the Mortuary Science Program, Arapahoe Community College and Donor Alliance (to Encourage and Facilitate Organ Donation. I’m a Trustee for York Children’s Foundation (a philanthropic arm of York Casket Company), the Regional Chair for the Funeral Service Foundation, a spokesperson (one of four) for the National Funeral Directors Association, and the Chairperson of the National Funeral Directors Association Communications Committee and Member of the Colorado State Bioterrorism Task Force Mortuary Subcommittee.

Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? My aunt, Marilyn VanDerbur Atler, who was Miss America in 1958, and an internationally known motivational speaker. She’s very focused and goal oriented and the most unique person I know.

If your life were a movie, who would play your part? Nathan Lane because he keeps a sense of humor despite whatever is going on around him, he seems to be able to keep things in perspective…wherever Nathan Lane goes fun seems to follow.

What gives a woman/man style: Presence. Clearly, this person knows who she/he is.

When you move, what will your home tell its next owner, about you? That I am moved by Southwestern architecture. It can be warm, bold, and inviting.

What one word would you use to describe yourself: Passionate

What word would you like others to use to describe you? Loving

What was your first job? I shoveled walks and mowed lawns in my neighborhood starting at the age of 10. My first “real job” was having a paper route for the Rocky.

If there were one thing you would change about yourself, what would it be? More self-discipline.

What is your greatest indulgence? Scuba diving. For me, it is the ultimate escape.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My wife of almost 22 years, Andrea. She has blessed me more than words can say.

Which talent would you most like to have? To play a musical instrument. My parents wasted a lot of money on my piano and guitar lessons. I admire people who just seem to “get it” when it comes to playing a musical instrument.

What is your current state of mind? Peaceful.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Buying and turning around a declining company.

What is your most treasured possession? The desk my father gave me. After loaning me some of the money I needed to make the down payment on my company, my father found out that I was shopping and about to buy a used and beat-up desk. He took me to a nice office furniture store and insisted on buying an heirloom-quality desk for me.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue: Temperance!

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? A lack of hope.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Authenticity.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Authenticity.

Favorite books / Writers? My favorite book is The Undertaking by Thomas Lynch. After that, everything written by Edward Abbey. Tom Clancy, James Herriot, James Patterson, Al Ries, Jack Trout, and Mark Twain.

What is the best advice you have ever received? Do the hardest things first.

What is your motto? Today, I will be the person who makes an important difference in someone’s life.