Just two months after the , he died after suffering a fall.
Hightower completed a 26-year tenure with Cobb, serving as Chief of Police as well as the first Director of Public Safety, overseeing police, fire, 911 and corrections.
Hightower led the police department through critical periods of growth, creating many specialized units within the department that are still in service today. He also created the Department of Public Safety Training Academy, offering initial and advanced training.
After his retirement from Cobb, Hightower continued to serve residents as director of the Georgia State Patrol and as Georgia's first Director of Homeland Security.
Hightower begn his career in the United States Navy Underwater Demolition Team as a Navy Seal. He also served as a captain with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
He died Tuesday night at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital where he was recovering from a fall. He was 78.
A memorial service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, with the Rev. Adrian Pleus, the Rev. Scotty Davis and Dr. Ernest Easley officiating.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Shirley Hightower of St. Simons; daughter, Kimberly Hightower-Hulsey and husband, Bobby of Studio City, Calif.; two sons, Robert E. Hightower, Jr. & wife, Kelly of Houston, Texas; Lance Hightower & wife, Angela of Dallas, Ga.; one sister, Wanda Eibling of Highpoint, N.C.; eight grandchildren; two great grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in his name to the Navy Seal Foundation, 1619D Street, Bldg. 5326, Virginia Beach, VA 23459; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or to the Navy Seal Museum, 3300 North Hwy. A1A, Ft. Pierce, Fla. 34949; web: www.navysealmusuem.org or call (772) 595-5845, ext. 202.
Mayes Ward-Dobbins Funeral Home & Crematory in Marietta will be in charge of the arrangements.