GARNETT D. HORNER, for more than two decades the White House correspondent for The Washington Star, was a classic reporter of the hard-news denomination. He covered a president by writing down what the man said and putting it, rapidly and accurately, into print. The story was always as straight as a taut string. He never embellished, or interpolated his own comments. He would have regarded that as a breach of his responsibility. He worried a lot about making mistakes. But he rarely made any, and he never broke a confidence.

He could walk out of a presidential press conference into a phone booth and, without pause, begin dictating his story in clear, brisk sentences. If you think that's simple, try it the next time you see a press conference on television. There wasn't time for reflection, or for exploring the implications of a turn of presidential phrase. But if you wanted a direct account of the event, with no frills, you couldn't do better than Mr. Horner.

Jack Horner took pride in his craft, and his paper. He was proud of belonging to the White House Correspondents Association, of which he was president in 1960-61. When he first began covering the White House, Franklin Roosevelt was the tenant. Jerry Ford was there when he retired. Yesterday, to the great sorrow of his friends, Jack Horner died in Florida, at the age of 73.