Published: Sep 16, 2012 12:04 AM
Modified: Sep 16, 2012 12:04 AM
Walter M. High, Jr. passed away peacefully at his home in Chapel Hill, NC the morning of Labor Day, 2012 at the age of 90. He was born in San Mateo, CA on Oct. 14, 1921, spent his early life in Burlingame, CA and moved to Fresno, CA where he graduated from high school. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945 during which time he met and married the love of his life, Jewell Alice Strandberg. They were wed on June 5, 1945 in San Anselmo, CA and enjoyed 55 years together until her death on August 29, 2000.
Walter spent his working career with the Southern Pacific Railroad where he began as a young clerk and eventually worked his way up to the management level. He retired on his 60th birthday and began a second career as an apartment manager in Arcadia, CA where he and Jewell had raised their three children. After a second retirement in 1989 and a brief sojourn living in Wilsonville, OR, they moved to Chapel Hill, NC in 1991 to be closer to family.
As gregarious and outgoing as Walter appeared to be in a public setting, he was actually a very private person who focused completely on his wife and family. He enjoyed the solitude of the mountains and his favorite activity was taking driving tours on the Blue Ridge Parkway with Jewell. After his wife’s passing in 2000, he concentrated on doing whatever he could that would be helpful to his children and their families. He spent many evenings as a devoted babysitter and often enjoyed the peacefulness of quiet conversation in the gazebo on his son’s property. This was in stark contrast to the person who could always make everyone laugh in a social setting. He spent his final years reading and listening to classical music while he reveled in his grandchildren’s achievements.
He is survived by his three children, Walter M. High III (Marty) and wife Karen of Chapel Hill, NC, Lorraine Tidwell (widowed) of Durham, NC, Michael A. High and wife Joanne of Riverside, CA; grandchildren Emily Shaw (husband Brian), David High, Zachary High, Charlie Tidwell and Cindy Tidwell. Also surviving are sisters Elizabeth High and Nancy Clarke, both of Fresno, CA.
No public services are planned per Walter’s wishes. His ashes will be joined with Jewell’s and scattered along their favorite stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation be made to the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway for the “Save the Parkway Views” program, PO Box 341, Arden, NC 28704 or at its online website.
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