Bret “Horkie” Horkman’s positive attitude, bravery, and strength through his setbacks were levels beyond most. He led by example that guided others to follow. Bret had the unmatchable ability to spread strength and kindness well beyond those who knew him.
Bret was born on March 11, 1991, to Eve (Lannoye) Wozniak and Brandon Horkman. From the moment he arrived, his family knew he had a special purpose. Bret spent his first months in the hospital due to medical issues. The doctors didn’t know if he would walk or talk and his heart needed to be repaired. Through early intervention at the CP Center, hard work, outstanding doctors, therapists, teachers, and love, patience and faith, he surpassed all expectations.
Bret graduated from Preble High School, attended NWTC, and, most recently, spent his days working and socializing with his Aspiro family. Bowling, shopping, karaoke, dancing, and fishing were some of his favorite activities with Aspiro. More than anything, the people there made all the difference in his life. Bret also worked at The Americinn East, where he enjoyed and took great pride in his work, and was a valued and respected employee. Bret loved to participate in team sports including baseball with Miracle League, bowling, and bocce with Special Olympics. The positive energy from the players and coaches helped him excel and brought Bret joy.
He enjoyed riding and watching buses, particularly with his Grandpa Mark Lannoye, who he called Papa. They took trips around town, as well as longer jaunts to Chicago and Minneapolis. When his health did not allow him to ride, his Papa would take him to wave to the drivers of the buses as they left the terminal. He was proud to know each of them.
Bret enjoyed collecting and watching movies with buses. He also enjoyed Disney movies and Mickey Mouse was his favorite character. Bret loved to swim, tube, and drive the pontoon boat and golf cart. Cruising around (the faster the better) on a snowmobile, four-wheeler, and in Jeana’s Mustang or Brent’s Willys brought him great joy.
Bret loved a good celebration. Holidays and birthdays with family were cherished. He took pride in making green bean casserole or cherry fluff for the holidays. Before dinner, Bret enjoyed leading the prayer with his family. Each year for Christmas he created the most beautiful and thoughtful gifts for everyone with the help of his stepmom Jeana and his dad. Sunday evenings, when there was a band, you could find him in the front row at St. Bernard’s Church with Grandma Jan. The days before he passed were filled with over forty of his favorite people visiting him at the hospital. They brought him so much joy.
Bret passed away peacefully as he slept on June 6 at Aurora Hospital with his handmade, cozy bus quilt, his Mickey Mouse, his mom and papa by his side and heart as they always have been.
In just 31 short years, Bret touched more lives than many hope to touch in a lifetime. Through his faith, strength, kindness, and perseverance, he demonstrated joy and happiness regardless of circumstance. He showed the world what it means to never give up or lose hope.
Bret will be deeply missed by his loving mom and biggest cheerleader Eve (Lannoye) Wozniak, stepdad Brent Wozniak, younger brother Myles; dad Brandon Horkman, stepmom Jeana Horkman, and brothers Noah and Zane Horkman and niece Aiyana; wonderful grandparents Mark and Jan Lannoye and Bonnie (Degrand) Burkart and Wayne Horkman, Kim Krenz-Wozniak, and Lori and Eddie Faust; aunts and uncles Ann and Andy Blank and special cousin Jordan, Brenda Beard and Michael Martin, Brian and Karen Horkman, Brooke and Joe Sonderegger, Ben and Aiden Horkman, Tricia Faust, Amanda Wozniak, Eddie and Emily Faust, and their families. In addition, special Great Aunt Sandy Pierquet will miss “her Bret” and his hugs.
He was welcomed into Heaven with open arms by his GG Jane Tilleman and Great Grandpa Don Tilleman, Great Grandma Millie and Great Grandpa Don Lannoye, Great Grandpa Elmer and Great Grandma Loretta Horkman. Great Grandpa David and Great Grandma Laverne “Cookie” DeGrand, Papa Pete Wozniak and Great Uncle (and partner in crime) Jeff Pierquet.
Bret’s family would like to thank so many special people: Team Bret for all of their love and support; Aspiro - you were a huge part of his life. Thank you for all the adventures and fun. So many of you have become like family. The nurses and doctors of Aurora and St. Vincent Hospitals. His “buddy” Dr. Mendoza and favorite on-call nurse, no matter where we were, Amy Dorner.
And his biggest supporters, “Papa” Mark Lannoye and “G” Jan Lannoye for being there each and every hour of his life.
A celebration of Bret’s life will be held Monday, June 13, 2022, at Malcore Funeral Home West 1530 W Mason St, Green Bay, WI 54303. Visitation will be from 4-6 p.m. with service and story sharing at 6 p.m. Please come as you are to celebrate and share stories.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund is being established in hopes of purchasing a park bench to be placed near a bus stop where others can sit and enjoy watching buses as much as Bret did.