Robert High

Here at eParisExtra we have featured some wonderful people and organizations in past articles as our monthly “Patron Saint of Paris” and this month is no different. Each month our editorial board selects an individual or group of individuals that show their Devotion to Works of Charity in Paris through the sharing of their heart, giving of time, or through the donation of money much like the original Patron Saint of Paris France, Genevieve. 

Photo: Courtesy of Jeanne Kraft/PISD

This month Mr. Robert High has been selected as our feature story. Robert came by my office and we sat down to discuss everything he has seen, done and been a part of since moving to Paris in 1971. Actually, it may have been easier for me to ask Robert what he hasn’t been a part of as that list is probably shorter.

Before we get into everything Robert has done in Lamar County, let’s look at the journey that got him here.  Robert grew up and attended Pemberton High School, which was a segregated school, in Marshall, TX. He told me that the students had erasers and sandpaper as their tools and they had to use them to remove graffiti from books and materials that were handed down from the white schools. He said he was always across the street from the high school in the library at Wiley College. He remembers walking by the 1935 Great Debaters trophy almost every day and meeting some of the greatest athletes in the conference.

While in High School from 1963 to 1965, during his sophomore, junior and senior years, Robert said he was a Civil Rights Advocate that participated in marches and demonstrations with Wiley and Bishop Colleges (both black universities) in Marshall. Robert’s senior year he told me he entered and won the local science fair and got to compete in the Regional Science Fair held at Kilgore College that year. He again won and received a US Air Force Award for Most Outstanding Project in Nuclear Science. The Marshall ISD Board of Trustees also presented him an Award for his accomplishment. However, he was unable to participate in the National Science Fair Competition because he was black. One of the judges at the regional competition happened to be a Professor from East Texas State University (ETSU) and offered Robert a science scholarship. After graduating from HS in 1965 he then attended ETSU and was one of only a few black students in the science department on a scholarship, as 80% of the black students were on athletic scholarships. Upon graduating with his Bachelors in 1969, he went right into Graduate School for Pre-Med studies.

One day in 1970 Robert said he came home and his wife, Carol, told him they needed to talk. Not knowing what was coming, she told a nervous Robert that they would be expecting triplets! Now needing a full time job to take care of his upcoming family, one of his Professor’s, Dr. Grey, told him Crockett school in Paris needed a temporary science teacher until they could hire a permanent one. When Robert showed up to Crockett, they handed him a packet of papers to fill out. He looked them over and realized that the papers they gave him were for enrolling him in the 9th grade. After explaining to them that he was actually there to teach, Robert started on the path that would lead to his 46 year distinguished career in the Paris Independent School District.

The first 23 years in PISD, Robert was a teacher and a coach in football, basketball and track. Robert spent the next 23 years as an Administrator.  He was the Assistant Principal at both Justice Elementary and Crockett Jr High. He also served as Principal at Crockett Intermediate, Principal of Paris High, and as the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources at PISD before retiring in December of 2016.

During Robert’s time in Paris, he has been highly involved in the community. Here are some of the organizations he has been a part of or is currently serving with: Served as Vice-President of the Lamar County Red Cross, served as President of the Lamar County Heart Association, served as Chairman of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, served as President of the March of Dimes, served as the Campaign Chair for the United Way of Lamar County and is still on the board as an Honorary Board Member, was President of Lamar County Crime Stoppers and is still an active Board Member.  He currently also serves on the Downtown Food Pantry Board of Directors and is the President of the Paris Chapter of the NAACP. Robert was the first African American President of the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce and also the first African American President of the Kiwanis Club of Paris and is still an active member.

Robert was recently selected in November by the Lamar County Commissioners in cooperation with the Lamar County Historical Commission as the 2016 History Maker of the Year. Robert also helped to Chair the State Student Crime Stoppers Convention that was held in February at the Love Civic Center with over 500 students, teachers, law enforcement and sponsors from all over the state in attendance. Last Saturday, Robert also led the NAACP Heritage Banquet at the Civic Center with over 400 guests. Last Wednesday Robert was invited and recorded at KXII TV in Sherman for two recent TV segments on Black History and 50 Years of Integration in Paris ISD.

A few more notable awards or accomplishments of Robert’s are that he received the “President’s Volunteer Service Award” from President George Bush in 2006. It was during his term as the Chamber of Commerce President that the LED lights were added to the Eiffel Tower at the Civic Center. Upon his retirement, he received a “Letter of Congratulation” from President Barack Obama. Robert also received congratulations from the US Congress and has had his bio entered into the US Congressional Record.

I asked Robert what else could there possible be on his “Bucket List” that he hasn’t already done or been a part of? He quickly informed me that his wife Carol of 52 years has told him that he has 8 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren that are at the top of the priority list now as well as their foundation. Robert wanted to leave a legacy at PISD through a scholarship endowment that would be perpetual. So the Robert and Carol High Scholarship will now be awarded to a needy student through the Paris Education Foundation.

Robert’s final words were to say that “I believe you have to turn resolve into results and you can only do that by acting or by your actions. That we have an obligation to use our god given talents to make the community we live in a better place to live and work for ourselves and future generations!”

It is easy to see why eParisExtra selected Robert High as this month’s Patron Saint of Paris. When you see him out and about, thank him for everything he has done for our community as we don’t think Robert will be slowing down any time soon.

We salute you Robert High!