By: Paul J. NydenThe Charleston Gazette
May 21, 2013
Annette Hightower-Grenz departed this life to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, 2013, in Elizabethtown, Ky.
Born July 21, 1939, Queenie Annette Jane Fuller from the union of a coal miner, Rev. Frederick Douglas Fuller, and a Georgia sharecropper’s daughter, Annie B. Fuller, Annette, also affectionately called by her friends and family “Queenie,” grew up in the coalfields of West Virginia. After living in several coal camps her family settled in Madison, where she graduated with honors from Scott High School in 1958.
She went on to nursing school and graduated from St. Francis School of Nursing in 1961 and then went on to become an anesthetist, being the first African-American nurse anesthetist in West Virginia.
Annette was married in 1963 to the late Rev. James Franklin Hightower and from her union was born two sons, James and Frederick Hightower. During the 1970s Annette worked as an anesthetist at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Later moving back to Charleston, she finished her career at CAMC Hospital, where she not only administered anesthesia but taught at the WVU Anesthesia School, where she developed close lifelong friendships.
Annette loved the Lord very deeply and was an active part of her church family, both at Maranatha Fellowship and later at her son’s church, the All Nations Revival Centre. She also founded the United Conference of Women’s West Virginia Chapter.
In 2004, she met and married Merle Grenz, an active duty Army sergeant, and together, due to his military career, they traveled to many parts of the country, becoming actively involved in other church ministries until her final days. Wherever she went, Annette’s faith in Christ impacted and transformed the lives of many people, and she was often referred to as “Mother Hightower.” Mother Hightower “Queenie” will deeply missed by all.
Annette Hightower-Grenz was preceded in death by her father and mother, the Rev. Frederick Douglas Fuller and Annie B. Fuller; her sister, Flossie Kate; and a grandchild, Alexander Hightower. She leaves to mourn her passing her husband, Merle Grenz; two sons, James Gardner Hightower Sr. and his wife, Alexis, of Muskegon, Mich. and Pastor Frederick Fuller Hightower Sr. and his wife, Michelle, of Huntington; six grandchildren, James “Jamie” Hightower Jr., Charity Hightower, Maria Hightower, Angelica Hightower, Sasha Hightower and Frederick Hightower Jr.; two sisters, Lillian Youathan and Lizzy Hester; a beloved nephew, Douglas Clark; a brother, James Fuller; and a host of other nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
All written condolences can be faxed to 304-346-6490. Cards can be mailed to ANRC, P.O. Box 200, Institute, WV 25112. Monetary gifts can be given in honor of the late Annette Hightower-Grenz to the United Conference of Women Young Girls College Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 505, Institute, WV 25112.
Funeral service was at noon Saturday, May 18, at the All Nations Revival Centre Church, located at 325 Academy Drive, Institute, WV 25112.