A.J. High born April 8, 1923 in Clebourne, Texas, passed away April 3, 2013 in Pearland, Texas.
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He was preceded in death by his wife of 63 yrs., Irene High; parents, Hawley A. High and Eva Harper High and two brothers, Harper High and Roy Earl High.
Survived by daughter Vennoy Racca and husband Ray, brother Lee High, grandchildren Kurt Damon Racca and wife Erin and Brent Racca and wife Mary Beth, great grandchildren Aubree, Ty, Kylee, Kobi and Cameron and many nieces and nephews.
Married Claudette Pfennig July 31, 2005, daughters Deborah Burdett and Pamela Glagener and husband Matthew and grandchildren Victoria, Alexandra, Nichole, Jacob, and William.
A.J. joined the Army Air Corps. seven days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor at the age of 18. Due to his age his parents had to give permission. After graduating from the Army Air Corps. He became a 2nd Lt. A.J. High on November 10, 1942 at age 19. The sky was his home and "God was His co-pilot." Some of the planes he flew and trained combat crews on were P-38, US78, B-17 Fortress, B-25 and B-29. A.J. was with the 73rd Bomb Squadron on the Aleutian Islands in the North Pacific and when he returned he later requested a change of duty to flight testing.
After flying for four years in World War II he continued to fly at the peak of the pioneering era in Texas in commercial aviation, Capt. High was the last surviving of the original pilots for Trans-Texas Airways, which began in 1947. He retired from Continental April 7, 1983 and retired for the second time in 1993 at the age of 70 from Corporate Executive Aircraft. From 1992-1998 he worked as a docent at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston, Texas. Later he became a docent at the 1940 Houston Municipal Airport Terminal museum at William P. Hobby Airport. This terminal was like a second home to A.J. since TTA began flying there in 1947. Capt. High was known as "walking history" by the volunteers who had become close and caring friends.
Capt. High had one final thought to end his memories, "When I think back on my life from that first flight in Temple, Texas when I soloed without any formal instruction and no license, to my years as a commercial pilot, I realize that I have been blessed. I have been one of the lucky ones who got to spend his life doing what he loved most. Many times, when I should have been killed, it was almost as if a hand reached out and protected me, or changed some small thing so I had just enough room to get out of a bad situation. It was as if I was meant to fly."
Visistation will be held Sunday, April 7, 2013 from 6-8 p.m. with Rosary recited at 7:00 p.m. at Forest Park East Funeral Home. Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m., Monday, April 8, 2013 at St. Helen's Catholic Church, 2209 Old Alvin Road, Pearland, Texas 77581. Interment to follow at Forest Park East Cemetery. Pallbearers will be: Earl High, Rocky High, Everett Booe, Matthew Glazener, Jim Knox, and John Kaltenbach.
In lieu of flowers please donate to the 1940 Air Terminal Museum at 8325 Travelair, Houston, Tx 77061. www.1940airterminal.org
Published in Houston Chronicle on Apr. 6, 2013