Hessie Hightower lived in great anticipation of the day she would go home to be with the Lord and she passed peacefully into his house on Monday October 17, 2011.
Hessie was the beloved daughter of the late Lynn and Bertha Scales Penn. Her sunrise was Monday November 2, 1925. She was truly a miracle since that day. Born only 2lbs. and 5oz., she survived her mother and twin sister after they passed when her mother was giving birth.
Hessie was born in Stewart Virginia and she was educated in the Virginia Public School System. She valued mental keenness and encouraged her family to actively pursue educational advancement and development. Hessie moved to Baltimore with her family at age 18. She was excited to move to the city; in fact she often exclaimed “farm life was not for me.” While country living may not have been for her that did not keep her from being widely known for her down home cooking. Hessie did not have one specialty; because just about everything she put her hands in was especially good. She was well known for everything, from her crab cakes and her potato salad to her sweet potato pie and her peach cobbler.
Hessie worked as a seamstress for some time. She did domestic work for over 15 years throughout the city to help support her family. She also worked as a member of the kitchen staff at the Warren House Motel. In addition she sold soul food dinners out of her house for a short while. Her business had orders coming in from all over Baltimore City. In 2007, Hessie was recognized by the Associated Catholic Charities of Baltimore for her work through the Senior Community Service and Employment Program.
Among the many things close to her heart, Hessie was passionate about her family and her faith. Her love for her family and for God was the foundation of her personality; and although she dealt with several illnesses throughout her life, she maintained her devotion to her faith and she never hesitated to witness to anyone about how God had healed her. She often spoke zealously and confidently about how God “healed [her] heart.” Whenever she spoke to a doctor or nurse she often started her check-ups by providing details about how the Lord had healed her and how he saved her life at birth. Hessie gave her life to Christ at a young age and she was a devoted member of the Calvary Baptist Church for over 45 years. She sang tenor on Calvary’s Choir for as long as she was able to serve. Her favorite songs were “Good News,” and “There’s a Brightside Somewhere.”
Hessie was preceded in home-going by: her husband, James “Tom” Hightower, her daughter Antoinette “Toni” Vaughn, son Gregory Wilson, her sister Jennie Ruth Hines, her brother Fletcher Penn and her step-sons Larry Hightower and Norris Hightower. She leaves to celebrate her life and her memory: her son, Latour Wilson, daughter-in-law Catherine Wilson, son Reginald Wilson, daughter-in-law Phyllis Wilson, step-daughter Angela Hightower Madrey, Laverne Hightower and daughter-in-law Christine Hightower, sisters and brother-in-law Bessie and Odell Coleman, Marguerite Hubbard, Lynnettia Thompson, brother and daughter-in-law Douglass and Lena Penn, sister-in-law Delores Berry, 17 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great-grandchild, a host of devoted and loving nieces, nephews and beloved family and friends.