Dan Mearns, former editor-in-chief of The Blood-Horse and Thoroughbred Record magazines, died suddenly of complications from COVID-19 on Jan. 16, his brother Greg Mearns reported on Facebook.
“Dan’s best friends,” his brother’s post began. “This message is from his brother, Greg. I am devastated to inform you that unfortunately, Dan has sadly and suddenly left us on Sunday, January 16, 2022 due to complications from Covid. His last communication with family was, ‘You don’t want to get this” and “Make sure you get the booster.” As you all know, Dan was a beautiful soul who made us all laugh, and even out loud, at his love for life. I miss him so much already. Peace.”
Mearns, 73, grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, where he attended DuPont Manual High School and later attended the University of Kentucky, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in American History. He was a member of the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society.
He started working for publications in the Thoroughbred industry right after college and stayed with the horse racing media for 20 years. Mearns was editor-in-chief of The Blood-Horse and the Thoroughbred Record before becoming editor of Florida Horse monthly. He also worked as a radio and TV analyst, according to his LinkedIn page.
“When I joined the Blood-Horse in 1973, Dan was given the unenviable task of showing me the tricks of the trade,” attorney and author Milt Toby wrote on Facebook. “He did a great job, winning the most hall chair races and winning one of our impromptu best use expense reports. It was a good time!”
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“My heart is heavy… so heavy,” Bob Massey added in a deluge of comments on Facebook. “I’ve been friends with Dan Mearns for about 20 years. He was one of the nicest, friendliest guys I’ve ever met…a big teddy bear with a heart of gold and a great sense of humor. For a while he was used to his writing skills as one of my best freelance writers here at Florida Weekly. Our community has lost a good man – a prince – and I’ve lost a dear old friend. I’m going to miss you, man.”
Mearns transitioned to newspaper work in 2000 at Sun Newspaper in Charlotte County, Florida, where he was a reporter, business editor, copy desk chief, Englewood Sun editor and columnist.
“Dan was seriously the nicest, kindest soul. He was always so caring and helpful when we worked together in the newsroom of the Charlotte Sun,” Ella Nayor wrote on Facebook. “I can’t remember ever seeing Dan without a smile. And that’s what I’ll remember him most of: his beautiful, warm smile.’
Mearns would spend a year handling press releases for an engineering firm before moving into marketing for Charlotte State Bank & Trust, where he would work for more than nine years. Most recently, he was a marketing specialist for Crews Banking.
“I am devastated,” Daulton Simpson wrote on Facebook. “Yesterday we lost one of the most kind and loving men to ever walk the earth. Dan Mearns was not just your average man, he was able to put a smile on your face no matter how bad your day was. He would take anyone’s shirt off his back if he could and would never complain Grandpa and I had a special bond he was more of a father to me than a grandfather He has always been a constant in my life and he is one of the greatest support for me so far. In these moments I think back to some of my best memories as a child and many of those who were involved with him. He had the biggest heart I have ever seen and I truly believe that he even at age 73 that was young too. He was the most vibrant person I’ve ever met and I learned so many incredible things from that man. I hope to love a person half as much as he turned out to be. I loved from him with all my heart & will h carry it with me forever.”
Appointments are pending.