YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Mr. John J. “Buddy” Hightower, Sr., 85 of Youngstown, transitioned from this life to his heavenly home on Thursday, October 26, 2023, at 8:47 a.m. at Mercy Health, surrounded by his daughters, son-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Mr. Hightower was born December 22, 1937, in Forest City, Arkansas, first born son of Mr. Bossie John Hightower and Willa Mae Lee Hightower.

He was a 1956 graduate of North High School.

He married Sylvia I. Traylor on November 10, 1956 and from that union they had one son, John J. Hightower, Jr. and three daughters, Darlene, Cheryl and Deborah. They were married 50 years until she preceded him in death in 2007.

John was a faithful member and wore many hats for many years at Phillips Chapel (CME) Church.

In his words…. “In elementary school he was the first black Patrol Boy at Scienceville Elementary where he was a lieutenant and then captain”. In the 7th grade he was elected President of his class. John liked basketball and football but he loved working on cars. He was the first Black from North High School to go to the Board for Auto Mechanic Class where he introduced body work to the class. He was the first of many back in the 60s to introduce auto-body work. He was also the first Black to race at the Holland Racing Strip where he was never beaten.

Later his skills in auto mechanics and bodywork landed him a job at Schuller Auto Body, where he was also the first Black ever employed. After Mr. Schuller’s passing, he continued managing and running the business. In 1966 he was one of the first Blacks hired into Fisher Auto Body Lordstown. He retired from GM Lordstown after 42 years of service as a millwright, he also won many awards while employed at GM.

Other achievements include: member of Covenant Lodge #59 Youngstown, Ohio, president of Hightower Family Reunion, treasurer of Phillips Chapel (CME) Church, treasurer of Hightower Family Network, North High School Booster Supporter, served on grand jury for Mahoning County, 60 hours skilled in blue print reading. Along with his wife, they helped to sponsor kid’s football and baseball organizations, donated to many kid’s charities and sponsored many kid’s activities. John with his big heart was known for helping family, friends and even strangers. He often served under various chairs for a multitude of entities throughout his lifetime. He was an angel here on earth and will truly be missed by everyone he touched.

He leaves to cherish his beloved memory, his daughters, Darlene L.M. Hightower (caregiver) of Youngstown, Ohio, Cheryl L. (Gary, deceased) Hightower-Wilson of Columbus, Ohio and Debra A. (Terry) Hightower-Hanna of Columbia, Tennessee. Also very close to his heart were his siblings, Doris Jackson and Sandra Abrams, both of Youngstown and one sister-in law, Dorothy Robinson of Crestwood, Kentucky. He will also be missed by his companion and friend, Mary Jones of Niles, Ohio; his grandchildren, Kisha L. (Brian) Smith Cole of Columbus, Ohio, Santana S. (Chris) Hightower-Lane of New Castle, Pennsylvania, Justin-Lee Anthony Jones of Youngstown, Gene A. (fiancée, Emily Chandler) Hightower of Poland, Ohio and Tatyanna Z. Wilson of Columbus, Ohio; great-grandchildren, Ja’Mese Lane of New Castle, Pennsylvania Alex (A.J.)L. Dover of Columbus, Ohio, Ja’Mya Lane of New Castle, Pennsylvania, Joc’Ko Lane of New Castle, Pennsylvania and Brian (B.J.) Cole of Columbus, Ohio; Godson, Eric Ratliff of Youngstown, Ohio; Goddaughter, Charlene Dienes of Wilson, North Carolina and a host of special nephews, nieces, family and friends.

Upon his arrival at Heaven’s Gates, he was greeted by his loving parents, Bossie and Willa Mae Hightower; his wife, Sylvia Traylor Hightower; son, John J. Hightower, Jr.; son-in-law, Gary Z. Wilson; two sisters, Geraldine Green and Genolia Hightower Brooks and four brothers, Lenoard Hightower, Rev. LaVerne Hightower, Dr. Jerome Hightower and Kenneth Hightower.

Visitation will be 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. Friday, November 3, 2023 at Phillips Chapel C.M.E. Church, 718 Albert Street, Youngstown, OH 44506 with a funeral service beginning at 11:00 a.m.  

Services of love and dignity entrusted to L.E. Black, Phillips & Holden Funeral Home.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John J. “Buddy” Hightower, Sr., please visit our floral store.