At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Pilgrim Manor Foundation
2000 Leonard St. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Life Story / Obituary
Barbara was born in Detroit Michigan, the 4th of 6 children to Maureen and Vincent Richardson. The family moved fairly often, but the majority of Barbara’s childhood was spent in Lansing Michigan. She had three sisters, Betty, Jean, and Anne, and two brothers, Bill and Tom. Life was always interesting as the six children were growing up. Barb’s older sisters were the ones in the kitchen, so Barbara never really learned to cook, but she was great at setting the table, adding her creativity as much as possible. She really wasn’t fond of school as is evident in her report cards, but loved the social aspect, so she had many friends despite moving often. Barb was fortunate to attend, and be in the first graduating class of the newly built J.W.Sexton High School in 1943. Construction of the school began in 1941 and as World War II and bombing of Pearl Harbor happened, construction materials were seized by the government for war production. Nevertheless, funding was provided by the Public Works Administration so materials were provided for the completion of construction. The school still exists and is known for its architectural design elements.
After Barbara’s high school graduation, she and a few friends traveled to Boston, MA and also visited Niagara Falls. She loved theater, the arts and dancing. When returning to Lansing, Michigan, she was employed at the Federal Building of Lansing where in 1947; she met a U.S. Navy man, Drury Glenn Highfill. The courtship began and they were married on November 6, 1948. They honeymooned for a few nights in Chicago, and continued their honeymoon during deer season. Barb went to deer camp with Drury to find that their accommodations were a stay in a tent with another couple! After one week Barb had to return to work and Drury stayed another week to do his hunting, testimony of their differences. Years later Barb said that she should have known then that the marriage would not last a lifetime. However, in the first fours years of their marriage, they had three children, Mary in 1949, Glenn in 1951 and Tom in 1953. Motherhood became her love and she managed to raise the children the first five years of the marriage until Drury retired from 20 years active service. The family moved to Brighton, Michigan where Barb continued as a stay at home mom. Family life was good with great memories of vacations to visit family in NC and Lansing but their trips also included sightseeing in many states with a special trip to the World’s Fair in NY in 1964 as well as another trip out west to many national parks.
After all three children were in school, Barb worked at Leith’s Orchards in Brighton, at Newberry’s in Manistee, and then as secretary at Packaging Corporation in Filer City. Her marriage ended in divorce in 1971, so Barbara moved back to Lansing where many members of her family lived. She was hired as secretary at the Lansing Board of Water and Light and began to travel as often as she could, driving by herself all over the United States to visit children and friends. During her travels, she collected handkerchiefs and glass blown eggs as mementos. She also pursued her interests of gardening, swimming, bowling, tennis and dancing. She was active in every church that she attended and was Superintendent of Sunday School at the Presbyterian Church in Brighton. She was president of the Meridian Garden Club and loved creating floral arrangements that she entered in contests, winning many ribbons. She was on a bowling league and member of Club 20 (twenty friends that met every Thursday for lunch). After retiring from Lansing Board of Water and Light, she created items to sell at craft shows with her niece, Kathy Kelly, and was a consultant for Mary Kay products. Her final place of employment was at the Meijer’s store in Okemos. Being involved in such a variety of activities was not a problem for Barb as she was extremely organized keeping notes for every family trip and for each organization she belonged to. Her children have documentation of the family trips down to how much each lunch cost, how much gas was per gallon, hotel costs, and cost of entry fees to each event attended.
The greatest joys in Barb’s life were her religious faith and her family. She loved her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren unconditionally. She was an inspiration to her family and to everyone who met her. She had a wonderful sense of humor, giving nature, and lived life to its fullest. Even when diagnosed with dementia at age 75, she still did as much as she possibly could for others as long as she possibly could. As the dementia progressed, her children moved her to Grand Rapids, MI where she could be closer to daughter Mary. Youngest son Tom also was only a few hours away and visited Barb often while son Glenn and family in Texas made several trips annually to Michigan to spend time with Barb. She was blessed to have a loving family including many nieces and nephews as well as a multitude of friends.
As the dementia became worse, she fought hard to beat it, but when it became difficult for her to remember what she started to say, she would shake her head and say “Darn that short term memory” or “That’s quite enough of these senior moments”. Mary cared for her daily with assistance from Reliance and brothers while Barb lived at Marsh Ridge senior living center, but eventually Barb was moved to an Adult Foster care home where she also was able to attend Sarah Care three days a week. On May 13, 2015 she moved into Pilgrim Manor, where she has had amazing care. The family wishes to thank all the staff for every thing they have done for Barb to keep her active and happy.
Barb’s faith in God, and love for her family, never wavered. She was truly an amazing woman and her determined Irish spirit helped her to never give up on anything. She will be greatly missed by many, but those of us still here on earth rejoice, knowing that she is now free of pain and is dancing and gardening in her Heavenly home. Our God is merciful and is an awesome God.
Barbara Grace Highfill, age 91, danced her way to her Heavenly Home on May 1, 2017, when beckoned by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Barbara was born on December 30, 1925 in Detroit, Michigan to Maureen and Vincent Richardson, the 4th of 6 children. In 1947 while working at the Lansing Federal Building, she met U.S. Navy man, Drury Glenn Highfill. They married on November 6 of 1948 and had three children, Mary (Gary) Miller, Glenn (Luthena) Highfill and Tom Highfill. She was blessed with three grand-daughters, Alexis, Jessie, and Carissa and a grandson-in-law, Ian. Then another great joy in her life were the great-grandsons: Jaidan, Finley, Zech, Evan, Levi and Elijah. She loved dancing, swimming, bowling, gardening, interior decorating, traveling; however church and family always came first. Barbara enjoyed her years of employment at Packaging Corporation, Lansing Board of Water and Light and Okemos Meijer. She was an inspiration to everyone who met her and she was blessed to have such a loving family and friends. The family wishes to thank all the staff at Pilgrim Manor for such awesome care the last two year of her life. We are so happy that she is now in Heaven and free from pain and Alzheimers’. A Celebration of Barbara’s life will be held 12 PM on Saturday, May 13 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. The family will visit with friends from 11 AM till the service, followed by a luncheon. Memorial contributions may be made to Faith United Methodist Church or Pilgrim Manor Foundation. For those who are unable to attend, please visit lifestorynet.com to read her lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook.