Ernestine Highsmith, 98, of East Haven departed this life on Wednesday December 28, 2022. Ernestine was born on June 3, 1924, in Mount Olive, North Carolina. She was the only child of Annie Lou Elliott and Booker T. Raynor.

Ernestine spent most of her early years in Mount Olive surrounded by her great grandmothers, grandparents, and other extended family. Ernestine married her husband, Willie James Highsmith on June 17, 1944. A week later, after learning of better job opportunities in the North, they both moved to Connecticut, finally settling in New Haven. They were married just shy of 60 years when her husband passed. The union produced eight children, eight grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. Ernestine’s greatest joy was being surrounded by her large extended family and sharing stories from her early life in North Carolina.

She was predeceased by her husband, Willie James Highsmith, Sr. (2004) and her son, Johnny (2021).

She is survived by her sons, Willie Jr. (Linda), Bobby, Donnell (Carlis), and David Michael (Gretchen); daughters, Linda, Carol, Barbara; granddaughters: Karen, Zulema, Nicholl, Tamara (Museveni), Alexandria, and Bethanie; grandsons: Jason (Gia) and Justin along with her seven great grandchildren and one great-great grandson.

A celebration of Mrs. Highsmith’s life and legacy will be held Friday, January 6, 2023, at 12:00pm at Curvin K. Council Funeral Home, 128 Dwight St., New Haven. A viewing and visitation will be held from 11:00am-12:00pm. The burial will be in Evergreen Cemetery, 769 Ella T. Grasso Boulevard. Following the burial, the family will gather at 7 Summer Lane, North Haven, CT.