Richard Van Horn
September 24, 1939 – June 15, 2021

Our world has lost an exceptionally bright, kind, and generous man. The Reverend Canon Richard Van Horn passed away at home June 15 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was a respected spiritual leader in the Episcopal Church and an important national leader in the movement to provide care, compassion, and empowerment for people with mental illness. He lived his values through his tireless advocacy on behalf of those who are too often forgotten or ignored.

Throughout his life he sustained his active role in the clergy, serving as Associate Priest at Saint Mary’s (Mariposa) Church and officiating at baptisms, weddings and funerals for friends and family. He loved the church but was not limited by it. He found his soulmate in Kay, a Jewish woman who shared his values and passion to support people with mental illness. His embrace of Kay’s family and traditions and his experience conducting several interfaith weddings earned him the moniker of “honorary rabbi.”

He is survived by his wife of 35 years Kay; his son, Kinter; his grandchildren, Skyler, Aidan, Kylia, and Aysa; his stepchildren, Mark (Debbie) and Todd (Tali); his step-grandchildren, Max (Erin); Samantha (Patrick), Eli, Maya, and Cameron; and his step great-grandson, Noah. Kay’s family lovingly knew Richard as their “zeydeh.” He had boundless kindness and generosity for his family, always willing to share wise counsel and his exceptional skills in woodwork.

Richard and his younger sister Ruth grew up in Arcadia, Calif., the children of Harlan and Evelyn Van Horn. He attended Harvard College, which sparked his love of learning and appreciation for his Episcopal faith. A church related fellowship brought him to teach for a year in Japan, which led to a lifelong love of Japanese culture.

On his return, he attended General Seminary in New York to pursue a career as a priest. His heart was always in outreach to at-risk youth and opening doors of opportunity for the neediest around him. As an extension of his staff leadership role in the Episcopal Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Richard was able to join the board of the local Mental Health Association. When the executive director position opened, Richard stepped into that role to help turn around that small local organization. It did not hurt the cause when the agency soon received an unexpected $7 million bequest. Under his leadership MHA-LA became a national and international leader, both for its advocacy work, and the embrace of a recovery model for consumers in the mental health system. This was modeled through its visionary work at The Village in Long Beach.

Richard played a key role in the development of more progressive and humane mental health policies and services in Los Angeles County, throughout California, and at the national level. His was a unique combination of moral authority, policy expertise, and political savvy. In 2004 he joined with then State Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg to help draft and pass Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, a new state tax measure that injected several billion dollars for services across California. He was a mentor and advisor for generations of leaders in the field of mental health.

Services will be held at Saint Mary’s Church, 961 S Mariposa Ave in Los Angeles Saturday, July 10 at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in honor of Richard be made to Mental Health America ( (213) 626-0441