September 13, 2016

Jack English Hightower

Born September 6, 1926 in Memphis, Texas, Hightower served as a United States Navy sailor for two years during World War II. In 1949, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and in 1951 procured an LLB from Baylor Law School. He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1951 and immediately became district attorney of the 46th Texas Judicial District, based in Vernon, Wilbarger County, from 1951 to 1961. From 1953 to 1955, he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election held in 1961. While still living in Vernon, Hightower served from 1965 to 1974 in two reconfigured districts in the Texas Senate. He was a delegate to the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention, which met in Chicago to nominate Vice President of the United States Hubert H. Humphrey for the presidency. That fall, Humphrey narrowly carried Texas over the Republican Richard M. Nixon and the American Independent Party nominee George Wallace of Alabama. In 1974, Hightower challenged four-term Republican Bob Price of Pampa for a congressional seat and won. Hightower was one of several Democrats elected due to voter anger over Watergate.

Hightower was a fairly moderate Democrat, and served a mostly rural district stretching from Amarillo to Wichita Falls on the east. The district had become increasingly friendly to Republicans at the national level, though Democrats continued to hold most local offices well into the 1990s. Hightower was reelected four times, mainly by stressing constituent services. However, in 1984, he was toppled by Republican challenger Beau Boulter of Amarillo, who benefited from Ronald W. Reagan's massive reelection landslide that year. After he left Congress, Hightower was the first assistant attorney general of Texas under Attorney General Jim Mattox from 1985 to 1987, then was elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 1988. In 1992, he obtained an LLM from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was later appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, a position which he held from August 9, 1999, to July 19, 2004. A Freemason, Jack Hightower was a member of Vernon Lodge #655 and in 1972 served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas. Until his death, he had been the oldest living past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas. Hightower died on August 3, 2013 in Austin.

GPS Coordinates
30° 15.904, -097° 43.611

Monument Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

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