With what should have been so many years in which to create his life’s masterpiece, Alexander Horst was taken from his loved ones well before his time. Life was not easy for him, and he struggled to rise above the darkness of a struggle that held him firmly in its grip. Alex was so much more than a young man with challenges as he was a devoted family man, gifted artist, and a person who loved and accepted others without condition. “Red Man,” as he was also known, was the sort of person who liked structure and order, and he was more than willing to work as hard as he could to achieve his dreams. Although he will be deeply missed, Alex’s memory will remain forever near and dear to the hearts and lives of those too numerous to count.
The 1980s were a transformational time in America when words like minivan, camcorder, and aerobics were becoming part of our vocabulary while families like the Cosbys, the Keatons, and the Seavers made their way into living rooms across the nation during prime time television. E.T. phoned home, Madonna and Michael Jackson became household names, and computers were beginning to transform the direction we were headed. It was on April 26, 1988, that a young couple from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were overjoyed to welcome their son, Alexander David, into their hearts at St. Joseph’s Hospital. He was the youngest of three children born to his parents, Alexander D. “Butch” and Cheryl Ann (Stockhausen) Horst, and was raised in the family home alongside his older siblings, William and Jennifer.
Right from the start Alex was deeply loved by his family. He also demonstrated a tender and loving spirit during his early years and had a smile that would light up a room. Alex developed an interest in painting as a young boy that was sparked and nurtured by his Grandpa Stockhausen and his Uncle Dave who were both painters. He also had an interest in science and took to building and launching rockets. He even built a potato launcher and loved launching the potatoes, but he was known to substitute his mother’s tomatoes when in a pinch. Alex also enjoyed the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing even though he wasn’t able to do these things often. His parents home schooled him through the seventh grade, and he went on to Wisconsin Career Academy for his high school years, graduating in 2006.
Family was always a significant part of Alex’s life. He adored his nephew, David, with whom he was delighted to share a birthday. Alex and his niece, Catherine, were more like brother and sister than they were uncle and niece. They could always be completely open with one another, and they never prejudged either. Alex was the favorite uncle to his nephews and niece just as his Uncle Dave was for him.
The things that made Alex such an extraordinary young man are many. Throughout his life he remained tender and merciful, and he was known to say things like, “I am so geeked!” when he got excited about something. As his friends and family can attest, Alex liked to wear brightly colored clothes – in fact, the brighter, the better! Colors like lime green, orange, and red were among his signature colors, and he was more than willing to share his clothes with his brother and brother-in-law. Alex was orderly, and he was known to straighten things in the refrigerator and to remind his father that it was okay to get rid of stuff. He made eating healthy a priority, and he tried to see that his loved ones did too, often getting after his father for eating things like hot dogs and processed foods. Alex carried his creative side into the kitchen as he was a great cook and baker who made his sister’s wedding cake and his mother’s birthday cake. His artistic talent also extended into the pictures he drew, artificial flowers he made, and projects he took on with wood. Alex often re-purposed things to make various furniture projects. Just this last week he had made some wooden frames with collages of pictures that he intended to take with him into his own apartment.
Alex was faced with daily struggles to overcome the demon that plagued him after being introduced to heroin. Some days were good days and some days were not, but he was blessed with endless amounts of encouragement and support from his family to break free from this drug’s wicked grip. Alex had more recently begun moving forward with his life and was excited to be enrolled in welding classes at Milwaukee Area Technical College (M.A.T.C.). He was thrilled to be in college and to be back in school in general as this was a major step in moving forward. Alex’s heart was so receptive, and he had been seeking more of God in his life. He was also using his talent and interest in painting that was established when he was young to help fund his new start. Ultimately Alex was not able to get completely out from under his heroin use although his heart was more than ready.
Through the life of Alexander Horst, Jr. we are reminded that each day is a gift to spend with those we love, taking not even one breath for granted. He taught us to not be afraid to live out loud and to pursue the things we love. Alex also showed us that there is always hope woven into any challenge we face, and it was with this hope in the forefront that he was ready to make a fresh start. We will miss his artistic touch, his abundant laughter, and his fun-loving spirit, but most of all we will treasure Alex’s love.
Alexander David “Red Man” Horst, Jr. died on April 12, 2013. Alex’s family includes his parents, Alexander D. “Butch” and Cheryl Ann Horst; siblings, Bill (Angela) Horst and Jennifer (George) Nusberger; nieces and nephews, Jacob, Ryan, Catherine and David; and other relatives and friends. Family and friends will gather Thursday, April 18, 2013, at Parkway Apostolic Church 10940 S. Nicholson Road, Oak Creek, WI from 5:00 p.m. until time of the Memorial service at 7:00 p.m. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a memory or photo, or sign the online guestbook.