Reverend Oliver Lee Hightower US Army Lieutenant Colonel Chaplain Retired Pastor Saint John Bosco Parish Retired Father Oliver Lee Hightower was born in Havre, MT on July 19, 1935 to Oliver and Mary Hightower and died in DuPont, WA on May 7, 2013. He grew up in Butte, MT, where he attended Butte Central High School. He went to Carroll College in Helena and enrolled in a pre-seminary program to become a Catholic priest as well as receiving a bachelor's degree in Philosophy. Fr. Hightower received his master's degree in Languages from the University of Louvain in Brussels, Belgium. He studied foreign languages at the Goethe Institute in Munich, Germany and the Sorbonne in Paris. Fr. Hightower was ordained a Catholic priest June 25, 1961 in Brussels, Belgium. He returned to Carroll College and taught French and German before attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he received a master's degree in Linguistics. He again returned to Carroll College, where he taught languages including Greek and Italian. He next traveled to the University of Washington to earn his doctoral degree in Philosophy before once again returning to Carroll College to teach Philosophy and Theology, eventually becoming the Dean of Students. After ROTC students asked him to say mass for their unit, the 396th Hospital Reserve Unit, Fr. Hightower joined the Army Reserves. He eventually joined the active duty Army and attended Chaplain School at Ft. Bliss in Texas and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. His first assignment was to SHAPE in Belgium. His next assignment was to Korea, where he remembers saying mass on the hood of a jeep in the field. His following deployment was to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, where he said mass on Waikiki Beach while the congregation sat in lawn chairs. Fr. Hightower attended Command and Staff School and was promoted to Major. His last assignment was at Ft. Lewis, WA. He was discharged in 2002 after 15 years as a US Army Chaplain on active duty, and seven years as a reservist, at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During his army career, Fr. Hightower received six Army Commendation and four Meritorious Medals. He considered the Army Chaplains as truly ecumenical when those of different faiths served together in the field and shared the same chapel. Following his military retirement, Fr. Hightower was assigned as Pastor of St. John Bosco Parish in Lakewood, WA and Immaculate Conception in Steilacoom, WA. He also served the residents of Anderson Island. In addition, Fr. Hightower ministered to the inmates of McNeill Island. Fr. Hightower led several pilgrimages to Italy, Spain, Ireland, and France. Fr. Hightower celebrated his Golden Anniversary as a Catholic Priest in 2011. He retired from the priesthood later that same year. Fr. Hightower never let his educational degrees and accomplishments, or his military rank, define him. As always, he was a priest in service to God and to his people. Fr. Hightower was preceded in death by his great-niece Molly Hightower. He is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, John and Annette Hightower, his nieces and nephews Mike (Mary) Hightower - Jordan, Zach, and Sean, Paul (Margot) Hightower, Therese Hightower, Christina (Mark) Zimmerman - Olivia, Isabel, and Broghan, Rev. Craig Hightower S.J. and Jeff (Kiko) Hightower - Hailey. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Pierce County Habitat for Humanity. A Vigil, including Rosary, is planned for Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 7:00 pm at St. John Bosco Church. A viewing will begin at 9:45am on Monday, May 13, 2013 with a Mass of Christian Resurrection to follow at 11:00am at St. John Bosco Church. A reception will immediately follow the service. Interment Calvary Cemetery. Please leave online condolences at www.gaffneycares.com. Arrangements by Gaffney Funeral Home, 253-572-6003. A Life Celebration® Home.
Published in News Tribune (Tacoma) on May 10, 2013