Robert Hightower – A tireless advocate for youth

December 11, 2009
By

By Joshua Resnek

editor@chelsearecord.com

It wasn’t always easy being Robert Hightower.

He was a complex Chelsea man who understood the trials and tribulations of life, and of his own life, which made it easier for him years later to serve as a mentor to younger people who benefited from his wisdom.

Bobby Hightower, as he was known throughout the city, died December 7 following a long battle with cancer.

He was 56.

He was originally from Georgia and came to Chelsea at an early age with his parents who settled in a three-decker cold water flat on Arlington Street in 1960.

As a kid, he grew up in a closely knit environment in the Chelsea of that era, long before the 1973 fire changed the city forever.

His childhood friends included Leo McCarthy, the late Stevie Lee, Danny Robinson and the late Walter Robinson.

He attended the Williams School where he excelled in basketball – and he was smart, a good student who learned quickly. He went on to Chelsea High School where he graduated in 1972 and where he played basketball with great skill and power.

At 6’5”, he was a strapping man, quick and strong, and in the Chelsea of this by-gone era, Bobby Hightower was no one to challenge.

He was a very quiet, humble type of man who knew how to size up people in an instant. He had a winning smile and for much of his adult life, he was popular in this city and well known.

As a younger man, he knew years of crisis but he outgrew his personal problems. He became one of Chelsea’s best – known men about town, involved with the city’s youth through a variety of programs which he worked tirelessly for.

When Bobby Hightower was calling on you, he was looking for help for the city’s kids or for the youth program he was working for.

“The time and energy that Bobby Hightower gave to the Upward Bound Program was absolutely outstanding,” said City Councilor Leo Robinson, a close friend who grew up with Hightower.

“He steered many struggling Chelsea kids in the right direction. He aided in getting them into college and to completing their educations when without him they might have never succeeded in that way,” he added.

Hightower raised his own family and was very close with his children and grandchildren.

In recent years he battled cancer as well as other medical issues and life struggles. Those of us who knew him understood he was not the type of man to complain.

“Bobby was many things during his life. He was a tough kid who understood the predicament that we all find ourselves in as we grow up. He was, again, many things. But mainly, Bobby was a credit to his name. He helped out more young people than most of us will ever do in our lives and for much of his adult life, he was a mentor and a friend to the youth of this city and to him. “Chelsea was a place he was proud to come from,” said Robinson.

Hightower is being waked on Thursday 4 to 8 in the Ruggiero Mazzarella Memorial Home 971 Saratoga Street East Boston.

A Celebration of his life will begin 7:30 p.m.

  • Robyn Berfield Muise

    All I can is what a guy! (CHS class of ’72)

  • Dave Hill

    I would like to take a moment to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation for the article on my cousin Bobby Hightower. When the Hightower family first came to Chelsea from Albany Georgia back in 1959, they stayed with my family for a year on Sruce Street until they were able to secure their own apartment on Arlington street.

    Everything you stated in your article was right on the money. There were also extra details of a positive note which would be too numerous to mention here.

    I should mention that back in the day when sports meant everything to most of us who grew up during the 1960’s will recall the Williams Junior High School basketball team of 1965-67. They were one of the best junior high school teams in the long history of Chelsea sports.

    That tean comprised of Bobby Hightower, Allan Harvey, Phil Harvey, Tony Ciarmella, Stevie Lee, Leo Macarthy, Joey Sullivan, Danny Robinson, Walter Robinson, Bobby Gonzalves and Ronald Smith. The battles they had with the Shurleff School baksetball team (who were also a very good team that season) will forever be in my memory. It is a prime example of Chelsea during that time when there was no such thing as an empty basketball court at any of the parks in the city.

    The sad thing about that particular Wiliams School team of 66-67 is the fact that Allan Harvey, Walter Robinson,Stevie Lee, Bobby Gonzalves, Ronald Smith and now Bobby Hightower have all passed away, along with Coach Pedi who I heard died several years ago.

    These guys may be gone now, but their memories will live forever with those of us from that era who are still around.

    Sincerely
    Dave hill
    Chelsea High School Class of 1968 now living in Middletown, Connecticut.

  • Dave Hill

    I would like to take a moment to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation for the article on my cousin Bobby Hightower. When the Hightower family first came to Chelsea from Albany Georgia back in 1959, they stayed with my family for a year on Sruce Street until they were able to secure their own apartment on Arlington street.

    Everything you stated in your article was right on the money. There were also extra details of a positive note which would be too numerous to mention here.

    I should mention that back in the day when sports meant everything to most of us who grew up during the 1960's will recall the Williams Junior High School basketball team of 1965-67. They were one of the best junior high school teams in the long history of Chelsea sports.

    That tean comprised of Bobby Hightower, Allan Harvey, Phil Harvey, Tony Ciarmella, Stevie Lee, Leo Macarthy, Joey Sullivan, Danny Robinson, Walter Robinson, Bobby Gonzalves and Ronald Smith. The battles they had with the Shurleff School baksetball team (who were also a very good team that season) will forever be in my memory. It is a prime example of Chelsea during that time when there was no such thing as an empty basketball court at any of the parks in the city.

    The sad thing about that particular Wiliams School team of 66-67 is the fact that Allan Harvey, Walter Robinson,Stevie Lee, Bobby Gonzalves, Ronald Smith and now Bobby Hightower have all passed away, along with Coach Pedi who I heard died several years ago.

    These guys may be gone now, but their memories will live forever with those of us from that era who are still around.

    Sincerely
    Dave hill
    Chelsea High School Class of 1968 now living in Middletown, Connecticut.


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