In Memoriam: Jack E. Hightower

This blog was written by Ben Rawlins, an English graduate student at Baylor.

Four years ago, the Texas politician Judge Jack E. Hightower passed away, leaving behind an impressive legacy of public service. A longtime friend of Baylor University and the Poage Library, Hightower’s papers are a part of the Baylor Collections of Political Materials. The Hightower collection covers the spectrum of Hightower’s political career, featuring documents from Hightower’s time in the Texas legislature, the U.S. House of Representatives, and as part of the Texas Supreme Court.

Jack E. Hightower early in his political career in the Texas House of Representatives.

As a Baylor University student, Hightower worked in The Texas Collection under Guy B. Harrison and learned the value of archives. He was called to serve in World War II, and when he returned from duty, he earned his law degree from Baylor. After he graduated, Hightower practiced law before entering the Texas House of Representatives in 1953. This was only the beginning of a long, distinguished political career. Hightower then went on to serve in the Texas Senate until he became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was the representative for Texas’s 13th District for ten years. After his time in the U.S. House, Hightower returned to Texas, becoming the first assistant attorney general of Texas in 1985. Hightower was then elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 1988.

Hightower riding in a parade as part of his re-election campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Hightower collection at Poage library includes papers from all parts of Hightower’s varied political career. The collection reveals Hightower to be a politician who cared deeply about his constituents and worked hard to represent their interests in the Texas Legislature and the U.S. House. They also show his devotion to the fair practice of law as a Texas Supreme Court Judge.

Beyond the political papers, the Hightower collection features a variety of personal items. One of the most exciting parts of the Hightower collection is the Jack E. Hightower Book Vault that features Hightower’s collection of over 3,000 signed books. Without a doubt, the book vault shows that Hightower was a bibliophile who loved to browse bookshops. From his childhood, Hightower also held a fascination with Abraham Lincoln, and the collection features Lincoln biographies and memorabilia Hightower collected over the years.

Hightower pictured with his wife Colleen (who was an accomplished church organist) and their three daughters, Ann, Alison, and Amy. Family was very important to Hightower.

Lastly, the materials in the Hightower collection reveal his commitment and love for family. Hightower and his wife Colleen had three daughters, Ann, Amy, and Alison. The personal materials in the archive show him to be a loving husband, father, and grandfather.

Because of the wide variety of political and personal materials the Hightower collection features, this collection offers a far-reaching picture of who Hightower was not only as a politician but also as a person. Through this collection, we can continue to appreciate the legacy Hightower has left for his family and the country as a whole.

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