For Darlene Hornung, it was a step into the spotlight when the Baker City Council took time to recognize her before the June 3 meeting as the Citizen of the Year.
Mayor JoDee Pratt made the presentation, but it took a little time to explain why she deserved the honor. “Darlene Hornung is very deserving of the Citizen of the Year award. She served as a volunteer on the Baker City Park Board for 20 years, serving as chairman for 18 of those years. In her tenure on the Park Board, she managed the baseball program, hiring and supervising the coaches. She was instrumental in getting the lights installed on the Coldwell Field and getting the scoreboard. She also supervised the employees who maintained the city parks and was responsible for the budget.
“Darlene also organized Fallon County Day for close to 20 years. In that capacity, she organized the children’s games, volleyball tournament and canoe races to name a few. She also lined up all the volunteers to run the events.
“As manager of the Fallon County Times for more than 32 years she was seen at all the events around town taking pictures, making sure that the history of Fallon County was recorded for future generations,” the mayor explained.
Hornung had retired Nov. 15 at the Fallon County Times after almost 33 years.
She grew up in Turner, MT where she went to school and graduated. She married her husband, Clayton Hornung. They moved to Havre, MT, where Clayton would attend school at Montana State University-Northern before moving back to Turner to teach for seven and a half years. Darlene spent her time babysitting and raising her three kids, Tim, Tammy and Julie.
She had dreams once of being a nurse.
“I had a child right away. I was going to be a mother. I wouldn’t have given up my motherhood. I didn’t want to go to work full-time until my kids were in school. ”In 1977, Clayton interviewed for several teaching positions in Montana, one of them being a job at Baker High School. “He interviewed here and he kind of knew that this was probably going to be the one,” Darlene recalled. “There was not even another thought in our mind that we’d ever move away from Baker.”
After working as a babysitter and also for a local optometrist she was contacted by Alice Anderson, who owned the Fallon County Times with her husband Jim. She wanted Darlene to come to work for her in sales.
After a few months, the owners decided to move and asked Darlene to take over the management of the newspaper. “I said that I’d give it a shot,”she said.
“Thirty-two and a half years later I’m still here doing it.” she recalled as she prepared for her retirement in November.
At the same time, she was also becoming a vital part of the Baker community, with service on the park board as a volunteer that was just one of the reasons she was named as the city’s Citizen of the Year, according to the mayor.
Brad Mosher and Shannon Johnson contributed to this story.