Kathryn (Kay) Trogdon was born in Toccoa, Georgia, on July 22, 1945. She graduated from Toccoa High School in 1963 and attended Burnham-by-the-Sea summer program in Newport, Rhode Island, before attending Sweet Briar College in Virginia. She majored in Political Science and minored in Dance, graduating with an A.B. degree in 1967.
After graduation she returned to Atlanta and taught school, earning an M.Ed. from the University of Georgia. As part of her master’s program she spent a summer in Bristol, England, studying the British Primary School System through Louisiana State University. She taught at the Trinity School and the Atlanta Speech School in the Department of Language and Learning Disabilities.
In Atlanta she became an active volunteer at the Atlanta Historical Society, the High Museum of Art, and the Atlanta Junior League. In 1980 she married Neil Hightower and moved to Thomaston, Georgia.
Neil Hightower was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 31, 1940. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1963 with a B.S. degree in Textile Manufacturing. He then served two years active duty at Fort Benning, Georgia, as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. While at Fort Benning during the Vietnam War, he completed paratrooper training and air assault training. He began a forty-year textile career soon after, rising to become CEO of Thomaston Mills, Inc., in 1986, achieving one of the best records in profitability in the textile industry in the early 1990s. During his textile career he was President of the Georgia Textile Manufacturers Association and later of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute. He served as a director of the National Cotton Council of America and was a director of Nations Bank South. He is currently President and CEO of Community Enterprises, Inc.
In Thomaston Kay has been vitally involved with various community organizations. While serving as president of the Upson Historical Society in the early 1990s she was instrumental in forming the Thomaston-Upson Archives. She continues to serve as chair of the Archives’ Records Advisory Board, beginning in 1994. She was also a founder of the Thomaston Upson Arts Council, serving as its first president. She was simultaneously appointed by Governor Joe Frank Harris to serve on the Georgia Council for the Arts, becoming chairman in her second term. She has also been involved with the First United Methodist Church, the Thomaston Junior Woman’s Club, Thomaston’s Greatest Generation Memorial Park committee chair, on the State Botanical Garden Board of Directors, and as a director of the United Bank of Thomaston for twenty years.
Kay served many years on the Board of Curators of the Georgia Historical Society, including two years as President of the Board from 2000 to 2002, the second female to serve in that position. Under her leadership GHS made great strides toward becoming a dynamic statewide organization. Her achievements have been recognized with a Governor’s Award in the Humanities.
Kay is the stepmother of three children and six grandchildren. Kay and Neil established the Kay Trogdon Hightower Fund at the Georgia Historical Society in 2015, ensuring that their commitment to Georgia history will continue in perpetuity.