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CCCCD Honors 2004 Living Legends


November 13, 2004 – Collin County Community College District (CCCCD) honored the 2004 Living Legends for Collin County on November 13 at a ceremony underwritten by Baylor Regional Medical Center of Plano at the college’s Spring Creek Campus. This year’s honorees were Professor John and Dr. Myrtle Hightower of Plano, Gerry Ruschhaupt of McKinney and Dr. Erwin and Elisabeth Pink of Frisco.

The second annual tribute not only salutes the pillars of the community, but also paves the way for the future leaders of Collin County through a scholarship endowment fund for outstanding students. Living Legends debuted in 2003, and the late Gladys Harrington, credited for starting Plano’s first library, was the first recipient. In its second year, the tribute expanded to include five honorees from throughout Collin County.

According to Cindy Bauge, with the college’s Board of Trustees and foundation, the selection committee chose the individuals who best exemplified the college’s core values of Learning, Service and Involvement, Creativity and Innovation, Academic Excellence, Dignity and Respect, and Integrity. “The honorees have truly had a profound impact on Collin County. All five of them have volunteered in their communities for more than 50 years, and they show no sign of stopping. They are exceptional people and great examples for our young scholars.”

Cary Israel, the college’s president, encouraged friends, family and colleagues of the honorees to join in the celebration of these Living Legends. “Recognition is probably not what motivated these individuals to give so much of themselves, but they certainly deserve to be acknowledged. We could not possibly count all of the people they have inspired and affected. They truly are legendary.”

About the honorees:

Professor John Freeman Hightower has always sought to make the world a better place. The longtime Plano resident and educator is widely known for his lifelong commitment and dedication to education, youth development and community betterment.

Professor Hightower grew up in Oklahoma began his teaching career in Anton, Texas before moving to Plano in 1956, where he was hired to teach science and coach at Douglass High School and was later promoted to principal.

In 1978, he became the first African American to receive the Plano Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Citizen award.

The John Freeman Hightower Foundation was established in 1999 to promote academic achievement, citizenship and leadership, and to award college scholarships to Plano graduates who major in education.

Although he retired in 1986, Professor Hightower has remained active with the Plano Community Forum, Collin County Committee on Aging and Plano African-American Museum.

Dr. Myrtle Nash Hightower is no stranger to awards and honors, although recognition has never been her motivation. When she received Leadership Plano’s Distinguished Leadership Award, the presenter noted, “Myrtle has lived a life of service and truly has a servant’s heart.”

Dr. Hightower brought her dedication to community involvement to Plano in 1989. She spent many years as a counselor at Williams High School and developed a mentoring program. She helped found and develop the local Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and proudly holds the first Meritorious Citizen award ever presented to an African American by the Plano Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Hightower continues to inspire as a writing instructor for Collin County Community College District. The CCCCD Foundation recently honored her with a scholarship created in her name.

Gerry Ruschhaupt has quietly made a profound difference during the 57 years she has lived and worked in Collin County.

She and her husband, the late Al Ruschhaupt, owned and operated McKinney Office Supply, Plano Office Supply and several other sister stores in the area. They provided jobs, mentoring and opportunities and even academic scholarships to many over the years.

Mr. Ruschhaupt managed the family’s growing business and became active in the community, working on important bond issues and the establishment of the McKinney Municipal Airport. He went on to serve as mayor of McKinney, president of the North Central Texas Council of Governments and board member for CCCCD.

For more than half a century, Gerry Ruschhaupt has demonstrated the work ethic, community values and dignified leadership that make her a Living Legend.

Dr. Erwin Pink has spent the last five decades making Frisco and Collin County a better place to live, leaving his indelible mark on health care, education, economic development and historic preservation.

As Frisco’s only doctor for some 30 years, he handled almost every local medical need that arose, seven days a week. He served on every medical committee at Collin County Memorial Hospital, as health advisor to the Frisco Independent School District and as the district’s athletic team physician for more than 40 years.

Dr. Pink’s compassion extended beyond his medical practice. Among his achievements as an 18-year member of the FISD board of trustees was leading the effort that successfully integrated Frisco schools in the 1960s. His contributions to the school district have been recognized with the naming of the new Dr. Erwin G. Pink Stadium and will share the namesake with wife, Elisabeth, of an elementary school opening next year.

Ensuring that Collin County’s rich heritage is preserved in these times of dramatic growth and change is a challenge requiring time, patience, energy and unflagging determination. Elisabeth Pink has proved that she is up to the challenge.

A former schoolteacher, she moved to Frisco in 1954 with her husband, Dr. Erwin Pink, and here they reared four children and became actively involved in their community participating in the Garden Club and PTA. She was a member of the Collin County Historical Commission for 27 years, chairing it for seven of those years and was instrumental in securing historical markers for numerous sites throughout the county. Her leadership resulted in the preservation of the 1911 Post Office building in McKinney, which has been restored to create the Collin County History Museum. The Collin County Historical Society recently rewarded her efforts by establishing the Elisabeth Pink Historic Preservation Award.

For more information about Living Legends, call the CCCCD Foundation at 972.881.5611.

Collin College serves more than 46,000 credit and continuing education students annually and offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. The only public college in the county, Collin College is a partner to business, government and industry, providing customized training and work force development.