Williamsburg area educator succumbs to cancer

Robert Horvath loved movies, judo and being a teacher.

While he battled cancer, he kept setting goals for himself, asking God to give him just a few more days, weeks and months, his wife, Trisha Horvath said.

Horvath also was a huge James Bond fan, and set a life goal to see the latest movie, “Spectre.” The first time he tried, Horvath was too tired to make it out of the house.

When he tried a week later, the 59-year-old sat in the theater’s front row in his wheelchair, munching on popcorn and marveling at the fight scenes and explosions from Bond’s latest adventure.

Horvath was a Williamsburg-James City County Schools special education teacher, adjunct professor at the College of William and Mary and local judo instructor. Horvath succumbed to lung cancer and its complications on Dec. 2, his family said Tuesday.

On an online eulogy page dedicated to Horvath, Gail and Tom Nash said Horvath was one of their son Scott’s favorite teachers, who pushed Scott to work toward his dreams.

Stephanie Rose said the Williamsburg educator taught her to always follow her dreams and never let anything hold her back.

“Robert was one of a kind,” Venus Spencer said. “He loved teaching and the students loved him.”

Horvath died about 10 days before an open house friends and family organized to give students and fellow teachers an opportunity to catch up with him.

His wife said Horvath was a romantic who would write her poems and leave them for her to find. A New York native, he watched the New York Rangers often and read the New York Post and Wall Street Journal every day.

As a teacher, Horvath taught in York County for several years before moving to W-JCC School where he taught special education students for more than two decades.

“He had a knack for trying to get students to think outside the box and find new ways to do things,” Trisha Horvath said.

Sheila Glennon recalled how much students loved Horvath when he taught a Jamestown High School program used to provide high school seniors opportunities for hands-on learning about interesting careers. The school phased out the program in the early 2000s because of low enrollment.

Horvath retired from his teaching jobs earlier this year because of his declining health and cancer diagnosis, his wife said. He later had a stroke, and the family learned his cancer had spread to other areas of his body.

After Thanksgiving, Horvath’s family was told he had Stage 4 lung cancer, and he was given medicines to make him comfortable, his wife, Trisha Horvath said.

Even with the diagnosis, Horvath set another goal — he really wanted to see a Rangers game with his family in March.

“He didn’t want to leave — he felt he had more to do,” his wife said.

Canty can be reached at (757) 345-2341.

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Robert Horvath, 59, is survived by his wife, Trisha and son, Tyler. His family request donations be made to the American Cancer Society on his behalf and condolences for the family can be left at www.nelsencares.com.

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