Baylor University Poage Library

Biography


U. S. Navy

Jack Hightower graduated from Memphis High School in Memphis, Texas in May 1944. He went directly to Baylor University and immediately enrolled in the summer term. In September of 1944, Hightower turned 18 and chose to leave Baylor University and join the United States Navy. He was sent to San Diego California for basic training and yeomen school. Hightower was later sent to work in San Francisco and was in the balcony of the Opera House when the charter creating the United Nations was signed.

Baylor University

Jack Hightower first attended Baylor University in the summer of 1944. In September of the same year Hightower left the university and joined the Navy. Two years later Hightower returned to Baylor University and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1949 and his Bachelor of Law degree in 1951.

During the five years that Hightower attended Baylor University, he worked for Guy B. Harrison in The Texas Collection. Even after he graduated and left Baylor University, Hightower remained close friends with Harrison. While serving in the Texas Legislature in 1953 and 1954, Hightower went to Governor Allen Shivers and had Guy B. Harrison appointed to the Texas Library and Historical Commission.

Jack Hightower maintained close ties with Baylor University after he graduated in 1951. Both Jack and his wife Colleen became life members of the Baylor Alumni Association. In 1972 Hightower was honored with the Phi Alpha Delta Outstanding Alumni Award, an award that is presented by the law school to a past alumnus who has served his community and made strides in the practice of law. Also in 1972 Hightower was named a trustee of Baylor University, now called the Board of Regents, and served in that position until 1981. In 1978 Hightower was one of three men awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award by Baylor University.

Family

Jack Hightower met and married his wife, Colleen Ward Hightower, while attending Baylor University. Colleen was an organ performance major. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949, the same year Jack graduated with his Bachelor of Arts degree in History. One year later on August 26, 1950, the couple married although it would be another year before Jack would receive his law degree.

The Hightower's would be blessed with three daughters: Ann, Amy, and Alison. Ann was born January 7, 1953, the same year that Jack started his political career in the Texas Legislature. Amy was born on September 26, 1956, and Alison was born on November 22, 1959 while Jack was serving as District Attorney of the 46th Judicial District.

With their father so active in politics, it was not surprising that one of Jack's daughters also became interested in and worked in politics. All three of the Hightower daughters were active in their father's campaigns, but for Ann the interest in politics went beyond this. After Ann graduated from Baylor University in May 1975, she went to visit her father in Washington, D.C. After a few days, Ann informed her father that she had a job in the Capitol building. She would eventually go on to work in the Pentagon.

Texas Representative

Jack Hightower's first taste of politics came in 1953 when he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives serving the 82nd district. This unopposed election came just two years after he graduated with his law degree from Baylor University. Although Hightower would choose to serve only one term as a Texas Representative, it would mark the beginning of a long and distinguished public service career.

District Attorney

In 1955 Jack Hightower was appointed by Governor Allen Shivers to serve as District Attorney for the 46th Texas Judicial District. Hightower would hold this post for seven years.

While serving as District Attorney, Hightower was appointed to the State Law Enforcement Commission in 1957 by Governor Price Daniels. In 1959, he was named Outstanding District Attorney by the Law Enforcement Foundation.

In 1961 Hightower resigned his position as District Attorney in order to run for the United States Congress. Although Hightower lost the 1961 special election, he continued his political career and would eventually run a successful Congressional campaign.

Texas Senate

After three years of private law practice, Jack Hightower ran for the Texas Senate in 1964, filling the seat vacated by retiring Senator George "Cotton" Moffett. In his first term, Hightower represented the 23rd district, but from 1966 thru 1974 when he resigned to run for a seat in the United States Congress, Hightower represented the rezoned 30th district.

Governor for a Day

In 1971, Hightower was elected President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate, making him second in line for the Governorship. On April 3rd of that year while both the Governor and Lieutenant Governor were out of the state, Hightower became Governor for a Day.

Texas Constitutional Convention

In 1974, the same year as Hightower's resignation from the Texas Senate, the 63rd Legislature met as one body as the Constitutional Convention. The Constitutional Convention was established to update and amend the Texas Constitution created in 1875. At the beginning of the convention, fourteen committees were formed and Jack Hightower was named chairman of the Committee on Administration. Although the Constitutional Convention was not successful in its purpose, in 1975 eight amendments to revise and update the constitution were brought to the public for a vote. Unfortunately the public voted them down.

Masons

Jack Hightower joined the Masons in 1951 after graduating from Baylor University and moving to Vernon, Texas. On August 29, 1953 his good friend George Moffett, who was then serving as Grand Senior Warden of the Grand Lodge of Texas, conferred the rank of Master Mason on Hightower. In 1971, Hightower was elected as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas for 1972, one of the youngest to hold the position.

Scottish Rite

After reaching the rank of Master Mason in 1953, Jack Hightower became active in the Scottish Rite, a sub-group of the Masons that provides additional instructions in Masonry practices. Hightower has been conferred the 33, an honorary degree, and has served as the chairman of the Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas, Texas. This is a full charity hospital and is the largest Pediatric Orthopedic Hospital in the country. Hightower has also served as chairman of the Scottish Rite Dormitory on the University of Texas campus in Austin. The dorm was built 80 years ago and was intended to house female family members of present and past Masons. While the dorm continues to be a female dorm all that is needed now is a recommendation from a Mason.

U. S. Congress

Jack Hightower resigned from the Texas Senate in 1974 in order to run once again for the United States Congress representing the 13th district. Hightower won the election in November of 1974 and served in Congress until 1985. His career in Congress spanned five legislative sessions and three presidents.

While serving in Congress Hightower was invited to be a delegate to the 1976 Democratic National Convention in New York City. Delegates from each state in the union met to choose the Democratic Party nominees. As a delegate, Hightower was involved in nominating the 1976 democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, and vice presidential running mate Walter Mondale. Carter and Mondale won the 1976 election.

Jack Hightower was defeated in the 1984 Congressional campaign by Republican Beau Boulter. However, his political career did not end there. In 1985, Attorney General Jim Mattox appointed Hightower as First Assistant Attorney General of Texas. Hightower served in that position until 1987.

First Assistant Attorney General

Jack Hightower was defeated in the 1984 Congressional campaign by Republican Beau Boulter. However, his political career did not end there. In 1985 Attorney General Jim Mattox appointed Hightower as First Assistant Attorney General of Texas. Hightower served in that position until 1987.

Supreme Court

When appointed as First Assistant Attorney General, Hightower agreed to work approximately 19 months. At the end of those 19 months Hightower chose to run for a Justice seat on the Texas Supreme Court. This was his first position that would require campaigning across the entire state and not just a specific district. Jack Hightower won the election and served as Justice for seven years, 1988 1996, retiring at age 70.

With his retirement in 1996 from the Supreme Court, Jack Hightower ended over fifty years of elected service. During that time he held five different offices in the Texas Government and served ten years as a United States Congressman. Although he retired from his career in politics, he would continue to work and serve in various organizations he had long been involved with, most notably the Masons.


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