BatteauBuddy HighJames River Batteau Festival

Former VC&NS President Robert Michael “Buddy” High, 73, died Sunday, May 19, 2019.

Robert Michael ‘Buddy’ High

We are sad to announce that former Virginia Canals & Navigations Society President
and Chairman of the James River Batteau Festival, Buddy High, has died.

Robert Michael “Buddy” High, of Valentines, Virginia,  73, died Sunday, May 19, 2019, at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill, Virginia.

Buddy went home to be with the Lord on May 19, 2019.  

He was a loving husband, Daddy, Granddaddy, Brother, Uncle, and friend to many.

Buddy’s family was his most important legacy.

His devotion to his wife, children, and grandchildren was one of unconditional love and exuberant joy.

Buddy is survived by his wife, Jean and children Michael (Cara), Jason (Tracey), and Emily (John); 9 grandchildren, Joey, Nathan, Kayleigh, William, Sterling, Brandey, Jaired, Kahlan, and Alexas; 2 sisters, Doris and Mesa Ann, and 1 brother, Pete.  

Buddy was an Army Veteran, serving in the military from June 1966 — June 1968, and also an active member of Masonic Lodge 297.  

Buddy was known for his storytelling, as he had a way to keep one’s interest while telling of his great adventures.

Buddy was a man who dedicated himself to influencing youth through his involvement in starting and supporting a choir at his church, his service as a Scoutmaster to boy scouts, a Chairman to the James River Batteau Festival, a President to the Virginia Canal and Navigation Society, his many visits to elementary schools to share his love for history, and in his connection with the Ole Virginia Primitive Riflemen.  Buddy was a man who committed himself 100% to everything he did. Buddy was also a devoted member of Philadelphia United Methodist Church, where he served as chairman to the administrative board.

Buddy left his mark on this world through his many building projects, beautiful handmade furniture, metalwork, basket weaving, soap and candle making, and various other hobbies.  Buddy influenced countless relationships through his operation of High’s Garage, High’s Used Auto Sales, and Country Cupboard, all located in Valentines, VA. Buddy’s legacy will live on forever in all who have been fortunate to know him and be touched by him.  

Funeral Services for Buddy will be held Sunday, May 26, 2019 at Philadelphia United Methodist Church, 6072 Triplet Rd., Lawrenceville, Virginia, at 3:00 P.M. with Rev. Brian Mallary and John Hogge officiating. Burial with Masonic Rites and Military Honors will follow in the Church Cemetery.

The family will receive friends Saturday, May 25, 2019 at Wrenn Clarke and Hagan Funeral and Cremation Service from 7:00 P.M. until 8:30 P.M.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a Shriners Hospital of one’s choice, or to the Send-A-Vet Foundation, P.O. Box 73623, Puyallup, WA 98373.

Online condolences may be left at


Buddy High, second from right, with the crew of the batteau “Maple Run” in Scottsville, Virginia, June 2018.

Editors Note: For many many years Buddy and I would always laugh when I would take photos of him. I would always say something like “One Day I’ll get a good picture of you!” or  shout “He Buddy, One Day…!!!!” and he would laugh and know what I meant!

Buddy, One day, when I’m with you in heaven, I’ll keep trying to get that good picture of you! In the mean time the above photo was taken in Scottsville during the 2018 James River Batteau Festival. It is the last one I ever took of Buddy and I’m so glad I took it. Rest in Peace, Buddy. Your friend, Holt Messerly.