Jack English Hightower

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For the museum director, see John B. Hightower.
Jack English Hightower
Jack English Hightower.jpg
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 13th district
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1985
Preceded by Bob Price
Succeeded by Beau Boulter
Member of the Texas Senate
from District 23
In office
Preceded by George C. Moffett
Succeeded by Oscar Mauzy
Member of the Texas Senate
from District 30
In office
Preceded by Andrew J. Rogers
Succeeded by Ray Farabee
Member of the
Texas House of Representatives
from District 82
In office
Preceded by 82-1: Pearce Johnson
82-2: Johnnie B. Rogers
Succeeded by William S. Heatly
Personal details
Born (1926-09-06)September 6, 1926
Memphis, Texas, USA
Died August 3, 2013(2013-08-03) (aged 86)
Austin, Texas
Cause of death Parkinson's disease
Resting place Texas State Cemetery
(Austin, Texas)[1]
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Colleen Hightower
Children 3 daughters
Residence Austin, Texas
Alma mater

Baylor University
Baylor Law School

University of Virginia
Occupation Attorney
Religion Baptist
Military service
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1944–1946

Jack English Hightower (September 6, 1926 – August 3, 2013) was a former Democratic U.S. representative from Texas' 13th congressional district.

Early life[edit]

Born in Memphis, the seat of Hall County in West Texas, Hightower was a United States Navy sailor for two years during World War II.

Education and law career[edit]

In 1949, Hightower received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. In 1951, he procured an LL.B. from Baylor Law School. Years later in 1992, he obtained an LL.M. from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1951 and immediately became district attorney of the 46th Texas Judicial District, based in Vernon, the seat of Wilbarger County. He served as DA from 1951 to 1961.

Political career[edit]

From 1953 to 1955, he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives.

Hightower 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.

Personal life[edit]

After he left Congress, Hightower was from 1985 to 1987 the first assistant attorney general of Texas under Attorney General Jim Mattox. Hightower was also elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 1988. 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.

Hightower married Colleen (née Ward) (1927–2015) in 1950. They first met at Baylor where he was a law student and she was a music major. Colleen passed away in 2015 and is buried alongside her husband of sixty three years.[2] They lived in Austin and had three daughters: Ann Hightower of Virginia, Amy Brees of Austin, TX, and Alison Suttle of Austin, TX. He is the grandfather of Lindley Thornburg of Virginia, Drew Brees of Louisiana, Reid Brees of Colorado, Audrey Brees of Atlanta, GA, Molly Suttle of Austin, TX and Nicoleta Suttle of Austin, TX.


A Freemason, Jack Hightower served in 1972 as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas. He was a member of Vernon Lodge #655. 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.[3] Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson said, "Texas has lost a true champion among its public servants and the Court has lost a colleague who at his very core was what a judge should be".[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jack English Hightower". Texas State Cemetery. 
  2. ^ "Obituary for Colleen Ward Hightower". Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Homes & Cremation Services. 
  3. ^ a b Weber, Paul (August 3, 2013). "Former Texas justice, congressman Hightower dies". The Olympian, Associated Press. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
82-1: Pearce Johnson
82-2: Johnnie B. Rogers
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 82 (Vernon)

Succeeded by
William S. Heatly
Texas Senate
Preceded by
George C. Moffett
Texas State Senator
from District 23 (Vernon)

Succeeded by
Oscar H. Mauzy
Preceded by
Andrew J. Rogers
Texas State Senator
from District 30 (Vernon)

Succeeded by
Ray Farabee
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Robert "Bob" Price
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 13th congressional district

Succeeded by
Beau Boulter