Donald Higginbotham

April 3, 1941 - February 27, 2018

Judge Donald Higginbotham, of Georgetown, Texas, formerly of Waco, passed away peacefully in his home the morning of February 27, 2018, surrounded by friends.

Services will be held at 1:30 p.m., Friday, March 9, 2018, at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home in Waco, Texas. Colonel Higginbotham has issued an order that "no ties" will be permitted at the service. Burial will follow at China Spring Cemetery. There he will be laid to rest beside his beloved wife Debra who preceded him in death in 2011. His many friends and family are invited to gather for fellowship from 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday, March 8, at Wilkirson-Hatch Bailey.

Don was born April 3, 1941 in Lampasas, Texas, the only child of Nelson Higginbotham and Loene Ferguson Higginbotham. Don spent part of his childhood in Tyler, Texas while his father was stationed there with the Department of Public Safety. Upon moving back to Waco, he continued his public school education, graduating from Waco High School in 1959.After high school, Don enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin; earning a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1963, followed by a Bachelor of Law and Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1966. Don joined the United States Marine Corps while in college in 1960. He was trained as a rifleman as well as a military attorney. He initially served as a Judge Advocate in the First Marine Division while stationed in South Vietnam. He would later request to take command of a Reaction Rifle Company during the Tet Offensive of 1968, and as the company commander leading his troops in battle, he was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat V device for his actions during that offensive. Don's was the only such combat award received by a Judge Advocate officer turned rifle company commander during the Vietnam War. Don retired from the United States Marine Corps as a full Colonel after 33 years of service. Although retired, he remained a proud Marine until he drew his last breath. Don's distinguished USMC career will be honored in the historical section of the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen.

Following his active duty military service Don worked for the Federal Trade Commission, rising to the position of Assistant Regional Director in Dallas. While in Dallas Don continued his education, earning a Masters in Liberal Arts and a Masters of Law in 1975 from Southern Methodist University. Don moved from Dallas to Austin and then to Georgetown in 1980, opening a small solo law practice. While practicing law, he was appointed Municipal Court Judge for the City of Georgetown and served as presiding judge for Williamson County's first Teen Court, a tradition carried on to the present day. Don was routinely appointed to difficult and high-profile felony criminal cases by the District Judges and developed a very active and successful practice.

Don was appointed Judge of Williamson County Court-at-Law #3. He thereafter was elected to two four-year terms, serving in that position for 11 years while receiving many awards for his judicial activities. Judge Higginbotham retired in midterm to provide tender and loving care to his wife, Debra, after she was diagnosed with cancer.

Debra and Don met as they volunteered their time with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, spending happy years in service with the non-profit organization. Their friendship deepened and Don married the love of his life, Debra, on January 4, 1997. They traveled some, but mostly spent their weekends at the family ranch, where they enjoyed caring for and improving the land, fishing, hunting and entertaining friends.

Don was a member of the Georgetown Marine Corps League and the VFW. He was a member of the China Spring Methodist Church. Don was a 32nd degree Mason and Shriner. He was a member and Past President of the storied Tejas Vaqueros in Kerrville, Texas. He was also a lifetime member of the prestigious Ranchero Visitadores in Santa Inez, California. Don was an avid hunter and fisherman. He was a prolific reader, as well as a gifted and celebrated storyteller. One of his many passions was music; Don could be relied upon to show up at venues in Austin, guitar in hand, performing cowboy ballads in his rich, powerful baritone voice. He also had a gift for reciting the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling, A. E. Housman, and others from his extraordinary memory.

Don leaves behind many friends to cherish his memory. A special thanks to: Mr. and Mrs. Jim Harrell, Mr. and Mrs. Kerry Russell, Regional Presiding Judge Billy Ray and Neta Stubblefield, Williamson County Judge Dan A. Gattis, his son Dan M. Gattis, and his lifelong friend Gayla Foust. Special thanks to his neighbor and longtime friend, Della Johnson, who has dedicated her time to Don's care this past year. Thanks also go to those friends who called, visited, reminisced, sent cards and kept Don in their thoughts and prayers.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, P.O. Box 4486, Houston, TX 77210-4486, designated for research In Memory of Debra and Don Higginbotham.

Pallbearers: Robert Beeler, Bob Devine, Steve Robertson, Ben Goodwin, Judge Dan A. Gattis, Dan M. Gattis. Honorary Pallbearers: members of the Tejas Vaqueros and Ranchero Visitadores.

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