Reflections on Paul Higday

Paul Higday and his family came to Columbia in 1923 in order for him and his brother to have access to a university education. His parents had visited two or three schools and towns, and then selected Columbia as their home because they liked the school and the town, and because they thought Columbia provided the best business opportunities for his father. That fall his brother enrolled at the university and Paul enrolled as a freshman at the old Columbia High School on North Eighth Street.

After Paul finished high school, he graduated from the University and then earned a law degree from there. As a businessman, Paul was involved in the organization of the Columbia National Bank, now the Commerce Bank of Columbia, and the South County Bank of Ashland, and served both institutions as chairman of the board of directors. He owned the Columbia Welding and Machine Company, and in fact, some say he was one of the best welders in the state of Missouri. Paul also owned farms in the McBaine and Easley Missouri River bottoms in Boone County.

Paul was always deeply committed to the Columbia community, as evidenced by his support and leadership in numerous charitable and civic organizations, including the Salvation Army, Missouri Symphony Society, and United Way.

Personally, Paul remained a very modest individual throughout his life. He was also a confirmed bachelor. He never owned a home, although he often considered it. Someone once said that he may have been the only person in Columbia, living in a rental apartment, who had an original Renoir drawing hanging over his fireplace. By his will, that Renoir became the property of the Museumn of Art and Archeology at the University of Missouri.

On his farm, Paul drove an old 1960s Lincoln with brush usually sticking out of the bumpers as he charged up and down the levees along the Missouri River. He once drove to town in that car with a calf beside him on the front seat, holding its four legs with one hand and driving the car with the other. Anyone who ever shook hands with Paul Higday certainly believed that story, for his handshake was like a vise. He also kept a new Lincoln to drive in town. Once he bought a dark green one, but true to his conservative nature, he returned it the next day and exchanged it for a white one. He said the chrome contrasted too much with the color of the green car, and was much too flashy for him.

It is indicative of Mr. Higday's personality, too, that when Sid Larson was in the process of creating an appropriate logo for the trust, someone suggested that Paul's name should appear more prominently in the design. Those who had known Paul well felt strongly he would never have approved of that--that it was Mozart's name that should be emphasized, not his own.

Paul loved music, but he wasn't a trained musician. He sang in the high school glee club, and also in church choirs in Columbia, and was sometimes a soloist. I was surprised to go by his apartment one day, go inside, and hear Vesti La Giubba, the great tenor aria from the opera, Pagliacci, playing on his stereo. It turned out to be a recording of Paul singing. He turned red, quickly turned off the stereo, and laughed loudly as he said that he had always wanted to sing that aria and had made that tape of it. The high notes really didn't sound very good--because he was a baritone.

- David O'Hagan
Member of Board of Directors, Paul D. Higday Mozart Music Trust
Professor Emeritus of Music, Columbia College

Recent Performances

11/20/15 The Juilliard Quartet
7/11/15 Angie Zhang, piano, with the Missouri Symphony Orchestra
6/15/15 The Ariel Quartet
6/16/14 The Dover Quartet
1/30/14 The King's Singers
6/24/13 Fine Arts Quartet
11/04/12 Christine Brewer
9/25/11 Ken Cowan
6/28/10 The Harlem Quartet
4/06/10 Midori
2/22/09 Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
More performances...

Mission Statement

In consideration of my love of music and particularly my appreciation for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the man, the composer and musician, it is my wish and desire... to make the pleasure of music and in particular the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart more readily available to the general public in the City of Columbia, Missouri, and the surrounding areas.

- Paul D. Higday