East Texas Band Director Dies After 50 Years Of Music Education

It was a music match made in heaven when Daisy Haynes, a music major at North Texas, met her music major husband, Dick Highfill.

"We married 58 years ago," said Daisy.

They spent a lifetime sharing not only love, but a love for all things musical.

"It was a lovely 58 year journey," she said.  "He was a musician and he expected perfection."

That's how Daisy Highfill remembers her husband, Dick: Not only as a band director, but a partner for more than 50 years.  A perfectionist who instilled the same passion he had for music within the hearts of generations.

"The words Dick Highfill and band went together here in East Texas," said Patty Highfill McKinney.

She said when it came to her father and music, you didn't really find one without the other.

As band director at both John Tyler and Robert E. Lee High Schools in Tyler, Dick Highfill came to be known as a dedicated teacher and musician.  He lead his students not just in East Texas, but nationally, even performing during the half time show during the 1984 Aloha Bowl in Hawaii, one of the highpoints of a successful music career.

"Dad expected and received discipline from his students," said McKinney.  "And he passed that along to me."

She said she tried to emulate her father in many ways, and discipline was very important to her.

"He was just an inspiration to me, and I wanted to be him.  I wanted to follow in his footsteps," said Cheryl Hale, a former student of Highfill's.  "He gave me my love of music."

McKinney said her father liked to be referred to as not just a band director, but as a music educator, whose baton will continue to wave.

"He was laying in bed and he was conducting a band, and we decided it was a band of angels," she said.

Highfill was 81 years old when he died after battling an illness.  Funeral services have been set for Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 1:30pm at First Presbyterian in Tyler.

Layron Livingston, Reporting.  llivingston@kltv.com