WESTPORT — Glenn Hightower, a longtime Westport educator, who spent the bulk of his career as principal at various Westport schools for 40 years, died Jan. 1. He was 76.

A native Oklahoman, Hightower moved to Westport in 1969 and started as principal at Bedford Middle School when he was just 28. He moved to become the principal of the continuing education program in 2001 and retired from the school district in 2009.

“Glenn was one of a very long number of very excellent people who were in principalships of Westport,” Steve Halstead, former school board chairman, said.

“He loved the kids. Somebody who was always at the school and always at the athletic events and was a real gentleman and a dedicated educator. That’s Glenn. He was also a real member of the community, involved in a number of different things. He was one of those guys who was a tried and true Westporter,” he added.

Firs Selectman Jim Marpe said, “It is with great sadness that I note the passing of Glenn Hightower. Glenn was the embodiment of an educator who was committed to his students, his profession, and his community.”

“He was compassionate and caring, and influenced countless lives not only through his roles in the Westport Public Schools but also through his participation in youth athletics,” Marpe said.

When Hightower left his post in 2009 he laid out his three main duties of serving as an effective principal, “First and foremost, to provide for the security of students. Second, to provide the leadership for and organization that supports good, strong academic and social growth. Third is to set a tone with caring and consideration for all people,” Hightower said in a Westport News article.

Former Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon praised Hightower for his work when he retired in the same Westport News article, “The beautiful structure on the hill above Staples High School was designed in large measure because of the work Glenn did on developing educational specifications for that school,” said Landon. “If you look at it, you know how much passion [Glenn] put into that design because as a middle school it has been constructed perfectly.”