Friend, father, grandfather, uncle, husband; counselor, teacher, conversationalist, listener, Highet historian; lover of music, travel, sailing, history, maps, politics, ideas — and peanut butter. Not one for small talk, he loved discussions on any topic. He was inquisitive, gregarious, and very funny. He loved people, and people loved him. Ever involved in his community, he said he liked “being useful.” He was so much more than just “useful,” as all who knew him can attest. He recognized and appreciated the uniqueness and strengths of others. Above all, he adored his four kids and embraced all his family with unlimited love. During his final year, he lived life to the fullest with humor, strength, and grace, even though prostate cancer had metastasized painfully into his bones.
Stuart Irving Highet was born in Fostoria, Ohio on October 17, 1931 to Donald A. Highet and Grace Slimmon Highet. The family lived for a few years in Chicago, then moved to Salt Lake City, where Stu attended Granite High School. After his junior year, the family moved to Peck, Idaho; Stu graduated from nearby Orofino High School as one of the Orofino “Maniacs.”
After high school, to avoid the draft, Stu joined the Navy for a 4-year term. After boot camp, he was assigned to a destroyer warship. He was in line to board that ship when he was taken out of that line because he knew how to type, then assigned to a troop transport ship. It was Friday the 13th, which he would always call his “lucky day,” because the warship he would have served on was later attacked, and many men died. He was a yeoman on the USS Jupiter, which made many crossings from Seattle to Korea and Japan. In December 1951 he had his first airplane ride, from Tokyo to Guam to Hawaii to San Francisco; each leg of the flight was twelve hours long. On leave in Seattle in 1953, Stu happened to be in the right place at just the right time to be one of the first people to drive across the brand new Alaskan Way viaduct. This year he was able to see the beginning of the end of the viaduct.
Out of the Navy in 1954, Stu returned to Idaho to work in a lumber mill. Wild youth that he was (hard to imagine that now), he test-drove a brand new Buick at high speed smack into the side of a mountain, barely escaping with his life. After weeks in the hospital, he continued to recover at the home of his parents, who then lived in Federal Way, Washington.
In January 1955 he enrolled at the College of Puget Sound (now UPS). He also worked at the Tacoma Sears hardware dept. While at UPS, he met and married Suzanne Bennett. Son Scott, was born; then, Stephen. In 1962 Stu received a BS in Education at UPS. He taught 6th grade in Tacoma. Two daughters were born: Shelley; then, Sydney.
Stu briefly quit teaching and worked for 3-M Corporation, selling educational products, but returned to teaching after two years. He then applied for and received a graduate grant. The family spent one year in Omaha; Stu received a MS in counseling at the University of Nebraska. Returning to Tacoma, Stu worked as a guidance counselor at the elementary, junior-high, and high school levels for many years. He and Suzanne divorced, but he soon met Pat, a first-grade teacher; they married in 1976. Her two sons, Mark and Jeff, and daughter, Jennifer completed their family. In addition, in 1985 they “adopted” a Swiss exchange student for a year, “John,” (Jean-Charles) Fiaccabrino, who is still their dear “eighth child.”
In 1987 Stu and Pat accepted positions at the American International School in Lagos, Nigeria, where for three years they worked with students from over forty countries. They had opportunities to travel to Europe and other African countries during their holiday breaks. After retirement, Stu and Pat attended many Elder hostels in the U.S. Stu was very proud of his Scottish heritage. He visited Scotland three times. His ancestors lived in the same part of Scotland as did Robert Burns; Stu and Pat attended the “Burns Supper” several times, Stu in full regalia, including his “Cameron” tartan kilt. Stu also wanted to see India; he and friend Vince toured India together for a three-week “Road Scholar” spiritual journey.
In 1994 Stu and Pat moved to Vashon Island, where they built a home at Piner Point, overlooking Commencement Bay. The Vashon community welcomed them both; Stu became one of the “Keepers of Point Robinson Lighthouse,” serving on the board and participating in the restoration of the old keepers’ houses. This project was one of his most-loved endeavors.
Alhough it was hard to leave their Vashon community, Stu and Pat moved to Seattle in 2006 to be closer to their families. Soon after moving to the “Stendall Place” community, Stu served on the board and was instrumental in organizing and working with a committee to preserve the landscape trees and plan for their future care. Many friendships were formed during that time.
Stu’s life was rich, full, and flavorful. He is survived by his wife, Pat; two sons, Scott (wife Lorie), of Puyallup, WA, and Steve (wife, Joanna) of Portland, OR; two daughters, Shelley Ghosn (husband, David) of Lake Stevens; Sydney Scoma (husband, Jeff); Pat’s sons, Mark Crosland of Seattle, and Jeff Crosland (wife, Ione) of Severna Park, MD, and Pat’s daughter, Jennifer Johnson (husband, Andy) of Lakewood, WA; grandsons Nathan, Nicholas, Brian, Mike, Jefferson, and Luke; granddaughters Jessie, Lauren, Janine, Mia, Gianna, Audrey, Ally, and Katie. He loved being a grandfather. He also leaves two brothers, Gerald of Mt. Vernon, WA, and Bill of Fresno, CA, a sister-in-law, Marie Highet, ofFresno,CA, and numerous nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by one brother, Gail.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, May 18, at the home of Anita Halstead and Kelly Robinson; 10017 SW Dock Street, Vashon Island. A memorial tree will be planted at a later date; Stu’s wishes were to have his ashes spread under a newly planted tree. Memorial donations may be made to the charitable organization of your choice.