Beaux Arts Ball King Introduced at the Ball
Reigning as King of the Beaux Arts Ball was easy for G.P. Johnson Hightower. His family members have been connected in some manner to the Ball since his mother, Dannie Bea James Hightower, was a debutante in 1947.
His grandfather, the late Dan William James was King in 1963; His dad, the late Frank Johnson Hightower, was King in 1970. He, himself, was a page in the 1963 Ball and an escort in the 1973 Ball.
Add to that his wife, Millie Farmer Hightower, was Ball Chairman in 1998, and his son, William Johnson Hightower, was an escort in 1999, and his son, Cody Dickson Hightower, a page in 1999 and an escort in 2011. Daughter Lindsay James Hightower Graham was a 2001 Debutante.
“The Beaux Arts Ball has been a great tradition for our family,” Hightower noted.
The new King grew up in Heritage Hills and attended Casady School. He was graduated with a BA degree from Vanderbilt University and an MBA degree from the University of Oklahoma. He had a 37-year banking career and retired in 2014. He was Senior Vice President in Commercial and Private Banking at Stillwater National Bank for 20 years; and retired from Arvest Bank as Senior VP Corporate Banking and Business Development. He has family ties with the First National Bank & Trust Co., which his great grandfather Frank P. Johnson and great-uncle Hugh M. Johnson controlled from the 1910s through the 1940s, when his grandfather, W.E. Hightower, died. His banking career started at that bank.
There is a long list of community activities for His Royal Highness. His board positions include: past board president of the Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club; associate board chairman of the Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra; board chairman of Harn Homestead; founding director of Children's Hospital Foundation; past board member of the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation, United Way of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Community Food Bank, Chairman of the Arthritis Foundation, Casady School Alumni Association, Historical Preservation, Arts Council of Oklahoma, Myriad Gardens Foundation, Oklahoma Arts Institute, Committee of 100, American Heart Foundation, and Vanderbilt University College Cabinet.
Currently, he in on the finance committee for the OCG&CC and has just gone off of the Greens Committee. He is on the Beacon Club board, the McBride Foundation board, Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. board, City of Nichols Hills Investment Policy committee chairman, Mayor's Development Roundtable steering committee, member of Queensberry Club, Rotary Club of Oklahoma City, and Leadership Oklahoma City Alumni Association. He is also a member of Lotus Club and is a past president.
He loves to play golf and to go trout fishing in Michigan.
“Geep” to his grandchildren and golfing friends, and "Johnson" to longtime friends, Geoffrey Pearson Johnson Hightower, is a longtime advocate for downtown. He offices in the Hightower building, 105 N Hudson. The building has been in his family since his great-grandfather built it in the 1920s. It has been completely renovated and a new park north of the building called “Hightower Park” will soon be in place. He is President and Manager of Hightower Properties and Sooner Nation Royalties.
“When I retired after being a banker for years, I headed to my office downtown.”
He is all about the continuing growth of the downtown area. It has been a lifetime commitment. His 10-story, 100,000 sq. ft. building is within walking distance to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. The Beaux Arts Ball benefits the OCMA acquisition fund.
“It is great to see the progress of downtown and it is fun to see yoga classes being conducted in front of the Civic Center and people walking their dogs in the downtown area. People are everywhere," Hightower noted. "I remember driving on Hudson Street, headed home from downtown, with my father and a sagebrush blew across the road.”
He is current chairman of the Downtown Oklahoma City business improvement district board and has been on the steering committee of the annual Mayor's Development Roundtable conference.
Johnson's wife Millie, an art history major and a major community volunteer herself, also noted that her husband has been involved in all facets of the community, the arts, health, history, education, finance. “He is a hard worker and is not flashy.”
“Being King is the highest and most unexpected honor I have ever received,” Johnson Hightower said. He is sentimental too. He wore the traditional white tie and tails formal attire the night of the ball, combining his grandfather's trousers and his dad's tailcoat.
Also attending the Ball last weekend were the Hightower's children. Billy is an anesthesiologist at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. He and his wife, Tira, have three daughters, Eva, Claire and Tessa. Lindsay is Director of Communications, Marketing and Events for Oklahoma City University School of Law and is married to attorney Jeff Graham. The Grahams have a son Jeffrey III. Cody is living, working and skiing in Colorado.