Colleen Ward Hightower
Colleen Ward Hightower died on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015 in Austin, Texas, following a series of strokes.
Colleen was born on Oct. 30, 1927 in Tulia, Texas to William Henry Ward and Lola May Lindley Ward. Surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends she survived life in the dust bowl days and through the great depression in the high plains of Texas. At the age of 14, she became the organist at the First Baptist Church in Tulia beginning a career that lasted 50 years.
After graduating from Tulia High School in 1945, she enrolled in Baylor University where she studied organ under Dr. Robert Markham. She received her Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance in 1949 and went on to work on her master’s degree as Dr. Markham’s first graduate assistant.
Colleen married Jack E. Hightower, a Baylor law student, in 1950 and upon his graduation they moved to Vernon, Texas. Colleen served as the organist at the First Baptist Church of Vernon for thirty-three years where she also directed the Children’s Choirs. She was active in the Musician’s Club, the Community Concert Association and the Camp Fire Girls. For two years, Colleen taught music at Hawkins Elementary School. Colleen was a talented seamstress and enjoyed designing and making clothes for her three daughters, as well as most of her own.
Colleen supported her husband, Jack, throughout his political career making many trips to Austin and Washington, DC. After his Congressional career was concluded, they moved to Austin, Texas where she became the Assistant Organist at the First Baptist Church where she served for twelve years. She loved her church and being a part of every service. She tried to present her organ music in a way that the congregation might be better prepared to hear God’s word. She wanted to, “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”
In Austin, she designed and decorated a Texas-style home where she enjoyed gardening and making hooked rugs. Colleen was a member of Mu Phi Epsilon, Senate Ladies Club, Legislative Ladies Clubs, Sierra Verde Garden Club, Current Book Club and the Concordant Bible Class at the First Baptist Church. She was a descendant of Prosper Hope, a settler with Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred and a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
In 1990 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but was cured and went on to live many more happy years. Following her stroke and Jack’s Parkinson Syndrome diagnosis, Colleen and Jack moved to Brookdale Westlake Hills (formerly the Summit) in 2010 where they received excellent care and make many new friends. She often said that she would not change a thing in her life, unless she could have been a starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, her favorite team.
After 63 years of marriage, Colleen Ward Hightower was preceded in death by her husband, Jack E. Hightower; her parents and grandparents, James Robert Ward and Amanda Jane Armstrong Ward and John Allen and Cora Dell Ridgway Lindley.
Colleen is survived by her three daughters, Ann Hightower of Arlington, Virginia; Amy and her husband, Chip Brees; and Alison and her husband, Richard Suttle, of Austin, Texas. She enjoyed watching her four granddaughters grow and was proud of each of them: Lindley and her husband, Joseph H. Richardson of Arlington, Virginia; Audrey Brees of Atlanta, Georgia; and Molly and Nicoleta Suttle of Austin, Texas. Two step- grandsons were a special part of her life, Drew Brees of New Orleans, Louisiana and Reid Brees of Centennial, Colorado. She is also survived by a sister, Emily Hill and her husband, Jim Hill, of Tulia, Texas and their sons, Brad and Brian Hill and their children; cousins LaJuana Ward Huggins, Chris Ward, Jim and Joe Lindley and Linda Lindley McCourt; Carolyn Lindley Cooley of Tampa Florida; Keith Lindley and his wife, Diane, of Wheaton, Illinois; Dr. Joe Lindley and Jim Lindley of Dallas, Texas.
The family would like to express thanks to Ann Harper for her many years of devoted care to Jack & Colleen, to the third floor staff of the Skilled Nursing Care at Brookdale Westlake Hills and to Heart to Heart Hospice of Austin, Texas.
Memorials in Colleen’s name may be made to the music programs of First Baptist Church’s of, Tuila, Vernon, & Austin, Texas; Baylor University School of Music; and the Jack Hightower Book Vault at the W. R. Poage Legislative Library at Baylor University.
Burial will be at 10 a.m. at the Texas State Cemetery followed by a celebration of her life at the First Baptist Church of Austin, 901 Trinity, at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015.
Arrangements by Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home – (512) 452-8811. Obituary and memorial guestbook available online at www.wcfish.com.