School 29

William H. Highsmith, Sr.

May 18, 2022




DECEMBER 17, 1920 – MAY 18, 2022

William Herbert Highsmith, Sr. was born on December 17, 1920, in Philadelphia, PA, to William Henry and Christine Andrews Highsmith.

He graduated from Philadelphia’s Central High School (175th Class). In his youth, he attended Miller Memorial Baptist Church, where he went on to become a member.

Upon graduation from high school, he was employed at Philadelphia’s William Cramp Shipbuilding Company, where he was the first Black Shipfitter Trainee.

Following his time at the shipyard, he served in the US Navy during World War II, where he was stationed in the Philippines.

Following his honorable discharge from the US Navy, William enrolled in Livingstone College, Salisbury, NC, where he met his college sweetheart and future wife, Irene Hooper Highsmith. From this union, two children were born: William Herbert, Jr., and Sharon Christine. While attending Livingstone, William became a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (Life Member 1468) in 1949. Following their 1951 graduation from Livingstone, William with a B.S. degree in Mathematics and Irene with a B.S. in General Science, they were married on August 15, 1953, and enjoyed over 61 years of marriage until Irene’s death in March 2015.

In the mid 1950’s, William and Irene taught in Douglas, GA, Spartanburg, SC and Denton, MD. And in 1957, they relocated to New York City, where William earned a Master’s in Education degree from New York University.

Upon completing his Master’s, the two returned to Philadelphia, where William began a 29- year career as a Math teacher in the Philadelphia School System, serving for over 20 years as Chairman of the Math Department at Stoddart-Fleisher Middle School. He retired in 1985.

In 2018, William and Irene relocated to Silver Spring, MD to be closer to family.

William was a member of the following organizations: Livingstone College Alumni Association; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (Life Member); DeMolay Consistory #1, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (“AASRFM”), Prince Hall Affiliated; Pyramid Temple #1, AEAONMS, PHA; Past Patron, Mabel M. Keys #99, OES, PHA; Disabled American Veterans, Life Member; and the American Philatelic Society, Life Member. And in May 1991, William was elevated to the 33rd Degree by the United Supreme Council, AASRFM, PHA.

William is survived by his son, William, Jr. of Silver Spring, MD; his daughter, Sharon of Clayton, NC; his grandson, Aaron of Lynchburg, VA; his sister, Lorraine Highsmith Lake of Silver Spring, MD; and many cousins, friends, and former students.

The interment will be at Highsmith-Andrews Family Cemetery, Robersonville, NC 27858.



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Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Service
May 28, 2022

12:30 PM
Congleton Funeral Home and Cremation Chapel
3205 East 10th Street
Greenville, NC 27858

Celebration of Life
May 28, 2022

1:00 PM
Congleton Funeral Home and Cremation Chapel
3205 East 10th Street
Greenville, NC 27858

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