Arnold R. Highfield, a longtime resident of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and later Middlebury, Vt., passed at the age of 79, on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, at the Porter Medical Center in Middlebury. At his side was his loving wife, Shirley, and their family.
Arnold was born in New Boston, Ohio, on March 10, 1940, to the late Arnold and Hazel (Nichols) Highfield of New Boston. Arnold was an author, scholar, businessman, and poet. A graduate of the Ohio State University, he received his master's in medieval history and a doctorate in romance linguistics. Arnold met his wife, Shirley de Chabert, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands while both were undergraduates at Ohio State. Arnold and Shirley’s love for education, language, and culture took them to Europe for some years before they settled back in St. Croix with their firstborn son, Kevin.
Arnold was a teacher at Central High School and a professor of Caribbean history and linguistics at the University of the Virgin Islands, which was then the College of the Virgin Islands, as well as a visiting professor at Middlebury College in Vermont. Popularly known as “Dr. Highfield,” he is former teacher, professor, and mentor to thousands of Virgin Islanders. He has lectured at universities around the world and authored 40 publications on Caribbean history and linguistics. He dedicated his life to the study and preservation of the history of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Upon retirement and due to health restrictions, Middlebury became Arnold and Shirley’s primary home. His dedication was such that he was writing about the Virgin Islands right up until the end of his life.
Arnold is survived by his wife, Shirley de Chabert Highfield of St. Croix, USVI; his children, Kevin D. Highfield, Leslie M. Highfield Carter, Kimberly R. Highfield, and Christopher R. Highfield; his daughter-in-law, Maria Constantinou Highfield, son-in-law, Richard Elliot Carter; his brother, Terrance Highfield; sisters-in-law, Luz Suarez de Highfield, Mildred de Chabert, Rita deChabert Schuster, Saturnina Viera de Chabert; brother-in-law, Dr. Ralph de Chabert; his grandchildren, Shareal Marshall, Christopher D. Highfield, and Christian Highfield; nieces, Melissa Highfield Iliadis, Lorelie Highfield, Janine Schuster, Danielle de Chabert, Gisele de Chabert, Rosita de Chabert Swanson, Judy de Chabert, Nicole de Chabert, Jacqueline de Chabert-Rios, Regina de Chabert Petersen; nephews, Eugene Highfield, Gregory Schuster, Kenneth Schuster, Troy deChabert-Schuster, Austin “Junie” de Chabert, Jr., Pierre de Chabert, Nicholas de Chabert, Michael de Chabert; honorary daughters, Kym Maduro, Kirsten Hill, Rachael Kier, Renee Blakey, and Trina Soto Clarke of St. Croix; honorary sons, Eric Alleyene and Neville James of St. Croix, Joachim Halse of Denmark, Henry Flores of New York; special friends, Ole Vinding, Dr. Alfred Anduze, George Tyson, Gary Coburn, Red Brown, Shirley Ziegler, and John Stout; numerous other friends, cousins, great-nieces, great-nephews, and cousins of the Highfield, Nichols, and Cooper families of Ohio; and the de Chabert, Schuster, Highfield, Muckle, Bough and Schjang families of St. Croix.
He is preceded in death by his brothers-in-law, Austin de Chabert Sr., Lowell Schuster and Mario de Chabert; and cousin-in-law, Christian Rode of Germany.
Services will be held at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Christiansted at 10 a.m. on Dec. 20, 2019. An additional announcement will be posted in local news publications at that time. The Highfield family is working with the National Park Service, Christiansted NHS, St. Croix, to preserve Arnold's Virgin Islands/Caribbean research collection. This collection documents Caribbean colonization history as well as specific St. Croix histories and will provide invaluable information to researchers through original documents and the digital database. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to help defray the cost of setting up this library. Information on how to make that donation will be made available soon.
May he rest in peace.