Tom Higley

Tom Higley
Tom Higley

Tom Higley, well known Amarillo newsman and photographer, passed away on November 27, 2022.  Memorial services are scheduled for Thursday, December 1, at 2:00 pm at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church with the Rev. Jared Hauze and the Rev. Jo Roberts Craig officiating. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.  Arrangements are under the direction of Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors.

Thomas Carlton Higley was born February 7, 1938, in Childress, Texas to Morris Thomas and Carol Amacker Higley.  He graduated from Childress High School in 1956.  After graduating from Amarillo College with a degree in photography, he then studied journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and North Texas State University.

Tom and Brenda Anne Keel were married in 1961.  The couple recently celebrated their 61st anniversary.

Tom was an active member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and served as church photographer.  His St. Andrew’s family was a special part of his life.

Higley began a 35-year news career in 1960 as editor of The Childress Index.  From 1965-1976, he was an integral member of KGNC Radio and TV (now KAMR-TV) as chief photographer, political director, editorial, and assistant news director.  He always remembered his most exciting news event to cover was the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, “working alongside my life mentor Dick Risenhoover and watching history unfold before my eyes!”

Following 11 years in TV, Higley joined country artist Mel Tillis in building KIXZ-KMML news into a staple for Amarillo listeners.

In 1986, returning to the newspaper business, he purchased the Sayre (OK) Journal and the Hollis (OK) News in partnership with his father.  After his father’s death in 1995, he co-published The Childress Index.

Higley was inducted into the Panhandle Press Association Hall of Fame in 2002, having had served as president of the organization for two terms. In 1996, Higley was inducted into the Texas Panhandle Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.  He served as president of the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters in 1984. The Texas Medical Association awarded him the 1984 Anson Jones Award for excellence in health reporting.

Active in civic affairs, Higley was a member of the Rotary Club of Amarillo, with nearly 50 years’ perfect attendance, and was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow.  He served as President of the Sayre (OK) Rotary in 1994.  Higley served as a director of the Tri-State

Fair Board for 30 years and was past president of Catholic Family Services.  He served as director on both Texas AAA and Panhandle Plains AAA for two decades.

Since retiring in 1998, Higley returned to his first interest – photography.  His work, capturing Southwest venues and outstanding views found in his travels, was exhibited throughout Texas and New Mexico.

Nothing brought Tom more joy than time with his “girls” — his wife, two adored daughters, and three precious grandgirls.

He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Carol Clem Blackburn.

Higley is survived by his beloved wife and partner, Brenda; two daughters and sons-in-law, Carla and Danny Holeva of Midland, and Paige and Mike McKay of Lubbock; three granddaughters, Emily Holeva of Midland, Madeline McKay of Denver, and Lily McKay of Lubbock; sisters and brothers-in-law Rita and Larry Evans of Childress and Sharron and Glenn Wallace of Brady; two godchildren, Shawn Stone of Edmond, OK, and Maxwell Adamchak of Amarillo; as well as multiple nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1601 South Georgia, Amarillo, TX 79102 or a charity of one’s choice.

25 Replies to “Tom Higley”

  1. My wife LaDonna and I worked with Tom at KIXZ/KMML for several years. He and Brenda became life long friends! We always joked about Tom being the cheapest man in West Texas, if not the whole state. LaDonna and I got to have lunch with Tom, sorry Brenda did not make it, a couple of years ago. My favorite, last memory of Tom, he bought our lunch! I will cherish that memory forever. God Bless you Tom

  2. Thomas has joined Elvis to make heaven an even more rocking place.
    He and Brenda looked after our mother, Catherine McFarland, as her (+my sibs & my) cherished friends and neighbor.
    We continue to hold dear Brenda and her family very gently in our hearts with love.
    I will miss his corny mimes…

  3. Tom and Brenda are so special to the Davenport family. Brenda was my mom while President of TCFA. Our love and prayers are with the Higley family

  4. My sincere condolences to Brenda and all of Tom’s family. Tom was proof that a person can be an outstanding professional in his field and a good person. He touched many lives in special ways. Happy Trails Tom Higley.

  5. Tom was a true delight to be around, always so full of creative energy and drive, so devoted to the girls in his family as well as his parents in Childress. We got to know one another during the ’70s in Amarillo where we covered some of the same stories together and when I got to know his parents in Childress who became dear friends. He worked hard to be the best journalist possible, fair and balanced, and left his mark on the world around him, as evidenced by his many accomplishments and honors. He will be missed.

  6. Tom was an amazing person as well as a brilliant broadcaster and newsman! I always enjoyed seeing him at Rotary meetings each week because of his sense of humor. Tom will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go to his family during this difficult time.

  7. It has been my honor and privilege to have known Tom and Brenda for 60 years. Along with other long time broadcasters, I enjoyed twice monthly breakfasts with Tom. He was a good man through and through. He will be missed.

  8. I’m looking at the beautiful photo of sunflowers Tom gave me after I mentioned how much I love them. It has been hanging in my kitchen area since then and brings a smile to my face every time I look at it. Sending you hugs, Brenda; thinking of the other women he loved and was so proud of, Paige, Carla, Emily, Madeline and Lily.
    With love,
    Sheryl McKay Piper (and Mark, Helen and Maggie send their love)

  9. Brenda and Family
    You are in our Sisters hearts and prayers. Tom was truly a holy man of God. He loved God with all his heart and there was room in his heart for everyone. He will be greatly missed.

  10. Brenda, was so sorry to hear about Tom! You and Tom have always been two of my favorite friends. My prayers are with you and your family. Love you!

  11. Tom was a good friend as a fellow classmate of the Childress High School Class of 56. I lived just around the corner from the Childress Index Newspaper Offices so we were also neighbors of a sort. His success in life as highlighted in his Obit was impressive and I feel fortunate to have been associated with such a person. May God bless his family in this difficult time for all of us.

  12. Tom honored me by letting me be his doctor and then promoted me to be his friend. I will cherish his memory and thank Brenda for bringing us together.

    Leslie E. Reese, M.D.

  13. A fine loyal and trusted friend since 1962. Tom was a good newsman, family man and photographer. From the newspaper in Childress to the photo shop in Clarendon, to the broadcast stations in Amarillo – Tom was a professional in all aspects of his career. His family came first and his friends got a close second. He is sorely missed and I cherish the memories and fun times. — Larry Todd, Austin.

  14. Dear Brenda and family. Tom was one of the good guys. We are sorry for your loss and will lift you up in prayer. Our love.

  15. I’m so sorry hear the news, but delight in Tom’s promotion to his real home. He always had a kind (but possibly mischievous) word and a smile on his face. He made my day every time I saw him. I will miss him.

  16. Our dearest Brenda, you are in our prayers and our hearts. There could never be two more loving and giving people than you and Tom. He will always hold a very special place in Glenn’s heart. We love you very much

  17. One of the best men in Amarillo and the Panhandle. We alway looked forward to our visits with Tom and the family in the many church events we all attended. Our love and prayers are sent to all the family and friends.

  18. My heart and love go out to Tom’s family and to the many friends he cultivated throughout the years. He’s been in my life since 1962 since his sister was one of my college roommates. I will miss him so much ❤️

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