Ethel Hightower, formerly of Niles

Published 9:20 am Monday, April 21, 2014

Ethel Hightower

Ethel Hightower

Jan. 7, 1952 — April 15, 2014

Ethel Hightower, 62, of South Bend, Ind. and formerly of Niles, Mich., died at 3:15 a.m. on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, at home, unexpectedly but of natural causes.

She was born on Jan. 7, 1952, in Jackson, Tenn. to Steven Bennett and Florene (Pearson) Bennett. She was graduated from Niles High School, and lived here until moving to South Bend in 1998. She had been employed by area manufacturing firms, and in the kitchens of area health care facilities.

Esther was a devout Christian and enjoyed worshipping with a great variety of congregations, although she most recently favored the Interfaith Christian Union Ministries Church, home to WUBS-FM 89.7. She also enjoyed singing at church, but her greatest joy was cooking for family and friends.

Surviving family includes her sons, Steven (Marla Jones) Bennett of Indianapolis, Ind. and James (Melissa) Bennett of South Bend; grandchildren Omni, Keziah, Jadyn “JJ”, Kathryn, Alexander, Dominique, and Ashlyn; Esther’s companion, Theopolis “Otis” Jones; her siblings, Forestine McCuin of Las Vegas, Almeda Kelly of Lansing, Mich., Gloria Darby of Niles, Christine Cherry of Kalamazoo, Ernestine Taylor, Eulah Adams, Nathaniel Bedford and Willie Cherry, all of Niles, Larry Pearson of Jackson, Tenn,, Patricia Bennett of Niles, Anita Bennett of Mississippi, Angie Bennett of Niles, Sherry Bennett of Buchanan, and Tim Bennett of Niles; many aunts and uncles including Cecil Bennett of Niles, and cousins; and Esther’s husband, Tyrone Hightower of Kalamazoo.

She was preceded in death by her parents, and by Joseph J. and Lillie (Bedford) Bennett who raised her.

The funeral service for Ethel Hightower will be at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Niles with the Rev. Bryant Bacon officiating. Committal will follow at the Silverbrook Cemetery in Niles.

The family will receive relatives and friends on Monday from 6 until 8 p.m. at the Halbritter Funeral Home in Niles. Contributions in memory of Esther may be made to the Esther Hightower Memorial Fund c/o Facebook at