Press Release • For Immediate Release

Harvey Highiet, long-time owner of Modesto Junk Company, 1921 – 2014

Modesto CA – Harvey Herman Highiet was born on November 21, 1921, and grew up at 202 Locust Street in Modesto. He lived 92 years, until January 7, 2014, passing away after suffering a stroke very late in December 2013. He was a life-long resident of the City of Modesto, a U.S. Army Air Corps veteran, and long-time owner and president of local business, Modesto Junk Company, Inc. – scrap metals and recycling center on 9th Street in Downtown Modesto.

Harvey was born as the oldest of three children to Alex and Nettie (née Zeff) Highiet. He attended Franklin (elementary) School, Roosevelt Junior High School, and graduated from Modesto High School (Class of 1938), and Modesto Junior College. He earned the nickname “Hotlips” in high school, and he remained fond of the ladies throughout his life. He made a number of close life-long friends at MHS – several of whom remained life-long Modestans as well – and was a head yell-leader both there and then at MJC. In fact, he and others from the Class of ’38 just celebrated their 75th high school reunion this past September.

Harvey voluntarily joined the U.S. Air Force during WWII. While stationed in Victorville CA during the war, he met the late Dabora (debbe) Cohen of Hollywood CA, and they married in 1946. Harvey always told a great story that he met debbe on a movie set, telling everyone that she was a stand-in for actress, Ida Lupino. They actually met at an organized Jewish USO dance. They soon had two children, Jeffrey and Cathy.

Harvey worked his entire life at Modesto Junk Company, which was founded by his father, Alex, in 1920. Alex started the junk business by collecting whatever he could – rags, bags, bones, glass, newspapers, rubber tires, scrap metal, and anything that could be salvaged – with a horse and buggy around town. Items were collected in Modesto, Stockton, and even into the Sierra foothills. Harvey helped his father with long hours – starting well before sunrise, and ending well after sunset – and often made daily trips to collect and/or sell items as far away the Bay Area. Harvey’s extraordinary contribution to the junk business was his ability to place the company on exceptionally sound financial footing.

Actually, Harvey knew a good deal when he saw one, and he was always looking. He loved buying (not selling) stocks, making property deals and investing in business enterprises. Not apt to change in any regard at any age, he called his stock brokerage every day with his ticker symbols to get quotes, and used a crank adding machine at work, never thinking much about ever using a ten-key calculator or a computer, much less email or the Internet. Harvey kept a pipe collection on his window ledge for many years, and would smoke tobacco from them while working away.

Harvey passed along the hands-on running of Modesto Junk Co. to his son, Jeff, some time ago. Nonetheless, Harvey still came to work every day – six days a week – as recently as late December 2013. He provided integral insight and guidance, all the way through the end.

He was a daily business lunch regular for many years at Noah’s Hof Brau. Over the past couple of decades, he ventured out a bit, and could happily be found at Tresetti’s (“best crab cakes on earth”, he’d say), Picadilly Deli (often for a half-a-tuna sandwich), or on Saturdays at Harvest Moon (for corn chowder soup).

Harvey enjoyed handball and racquetball at the SOS Club, playing golf, and betting on horses at the races. He loved fried Hebrew National salami sandwiches, just about everything prepared by his wife, and – despite the objections of a host of restaurants and wait staff – ‘chilled’ red wine and very well done steak. He loved dining out, and his absolute favorite destination in recent years was Bella Italia. Together, Harvey and debbe shared many great travels around the globe, and enjoyed hosting friends and family for gatherings, holidays, and parties at their home in Modesto. Harvey especially loved New York and Broadway shows, Lake Tahoe and gambling, and anything-L.A.

As recanted by his son, Jeff, “Family, Family, Family” was what Harvey – and his dad, Alex – professed his entire life with his words, and more so, through his actions and leadership. Dedication, loyalty, character and integrity were the hallmark values he lived by and taught to his family, along with compassion, sharing, and of course, a very strong work ethic. ‘Work first, play later’ was the motto by which he lived, and work he did, from as a young boy up until he no longer could physically do so.

Harvey instilled great, strong values in his children, grandchildren, and through them now, his great-grandchildren. Despite being modest in physical size, he was by every other measure the giant of the family, and especially in his prime, a considerably imposing figure in business. At his core, Harvey was a dedicated family man, and as such, provided stability and support in far greater ways than he could ever receive. He loved others, was loved by others, is missed, and will be remembered for a long time to come.

Harvey was preceeded in death by his father and mother, Alex and Nettie of Modesto CA; sister, Martha Garber of Stockton CA; and wife, debbe of Modesto CA. He is survived by his brother, Barry Highiet of Modesto CA; children, Jeff Highiet of Modesto CA; Cathy and Mark Hunter of Novato CA; grandchildren, Keith Highiet of Modesto CA; Janine and Craig Ivicevic of Perris CA; Alexis Pinkerton of Modesto CA; Stephanie Posert of Novato CA; and great-grandchildren, Kaleb Pinkerton of Modesto CA; and Chiara Ivicevic of Perris CA.

A funeral will be held at Congregation Beth Shalom, 1705 Sherwood Ave, Modesto CA, at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, January 10, 2014. Burial will follow at Lakewood Cemetery in Hughson CA.

Remembrances can be made to Congregation Beth Shalom, 1705 Sherwood Avenue, Modesto CA 95350.

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For more information, contact Keith Highiet at (209) 522-1435 or