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Jim Horton – Passed Away on Sunday, June 5th, 2022

Jim Horton, former President, IMS Dredges

Posted on June 13, 2022

James “Jim” Frederick Horton, 80, of Leawood, KS, passed away on June 5th 2022, at Brookdale College Square Memory Care due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease with his wife Valerie and son Ryan by his side.

Jim was born on October 11, 1941 to Charles and Margaret Horton in Detroit, Michigan.  After leaving the seminary in high school, he went on to earn his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Michigan, after which he joined the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.In 1972, Jim met Valerie Iannelli at a Young Republican social in Detroit. They married in 1975, and were blessed with two sons, Christopher, 45, who lives in Taipei, Taiwan, and Ryan, 43, of Leawood, KS.

Starting out in his business career Jim worked at multiple Ford dealerships in the Detroit area in sales and management positions.  He then went on to work forCummins, and then H&H Pump Company where his deep interest in the hydraulic dredge industry began.  Jim co-founded Innovative Material Systems (IMS), Inc. in 1986 in Olathe, KS which he sold to Ellicott Dredge in 2003.  Today the company is part of Markel Ventures, a Fortune 500 publicly traded company.

As President of IMShe traveled to over 40 countries around the globe and today there are over 600 IMS Versi-Dredge units in over 65 countries.  In 2000 IMS was awarded the Kansas Governor’s Exporting Award by then Governor Bill Graves.  Jim is credited with spearheading the patented Starwheel Drive self-propulsion system in the market place, transforming the company from a modest industrial start-up to the globally recognized brand it is today.  In 2014 IMS was awarded the U.S. Presidents E-Award for Exporting Achievement by then U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, in Washington, D.C.

In 2015, Jim retired and continued to get his laps in at the pool.  He enjoyed traveling to Europe and Southeast Asia with Valerie and found pleasure in the simple things like a bag of peanuts and a bottle of ice-cold Coors Light with a lime.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Margaret Horton.  He is survived by his wife Valerie; sons Christopher and Ryan; daughter-in-law Kyla and grandson Maddox; and siblings David, Mary Beth, and Anne.

Jim will be remembered for his honesty, integrity, generosity, entrepreneurial spirit, positive outlook, compassion, impossibly clean car, master delegating skills, sage-like wisdom, and quick wit. He also supported many charities over the years, especially Catholic Charities.

The Horton Family would like to thank and recognize the professional staff at Brookdale College Square and Brookdale Hospice for the amazing compassion and care they gave to Jim during his final two years.

Visitation will be held at Church of the Nativity in Leawood, KS on July 22, at 10:00 a.m. followed by the Mass of the Christian Burial at 11:00.  A Celebration of Life luncheon will follow in the lower level.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association ( or Catholic Charities USA (

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