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Joyce Higgins

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Joyce Higgins Obituary
Joy (Rosebud) Higgins

July 30, 1915 - June 13, 2014

"When you're smiling…"

Joyce Higgins was an extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life. She was a charming and elegant lady who dearly loved people. She had a pioneer spirit and was always optimistic, and everyone who knew her was better for the "joy" she brought to the lives she touched.

Joy was born in 1915 in Melbourne, Australia, to Edward Kelly, a successful, licensed bookmaker at Sydney's famous Randwick Racetrack, and Amelia Collins Kelly from Tasmania. Joy studied at Frensham, a fashionable girls boarding school south of Sydney. Joy dreamed of becoming a professional dancer, but her father would have no part of it ("It is unbecoming, like being an actor!" he said). Edward Kelly died when Joy was 16 years old. In 1932, she and her mother embarked on the first of many trips traveling the world: Sydney to San Francisco, New York, London, Canada, Japan and China. While on a cruise from Sydney to San Francisco in 1936, Joy met her future husband, John Edward "Ed" Higgins, Chief Purser on the Matson Lines ocean liner "Mariposa." They were married in St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney in 1938. Joy took up residence in Sydney, while Ed continued to work for Matson. In 1940 the first of six sons was born: John was followed by Colin (born in New Caledonia), Gary (Sydney), and Brian and the twins, Dennis and Barry (all three in Oakland, California). Following World War II, the family moved to the Bay Area where Ed sold real estate - not very successfully. He seemed to end up talking people out of buying the homes he was selling. When Ed returned to Matson Lines and the sea, the family returned to Sydney, Australia, where they resided until 1957, at which time they relocated one last time to Menlo Park.

After "Joys Boys" completed school, Joy began a career in sales at fine department stores. She began in the gown department at Livingston's (Stanford Shopping Center), and moved to fragrances at Sak's, I.Magnin's, Bullocks, City of Paris and finally Nieman Marcus in San Francisco. She retired in 2002 at the age of 87. Following Ed's passing in 1994, and 56 years of marriage, Joy continued to live an active life in Menlo Park with friends and family. She spent the last six years of her life at the Merrill Gardens retirement community in Fremont, CA.

Joy met life, with all its beauty and challenges, head-on, with a patience, compassion, and resolve that defined her inner strength. For this she was admired and loved.

She died very peacefully under hospice care with family and dearest friends at her home in Fremont. She is preceded in death by her husband, Ed, and three sons: John, Colin, and Barry. Joy is survived by sons Gary, Brian and Dennis, grandsons Patrick, James and Sean, daughters-in-law Marty and Colette, extended family Anne, Pam and Scott Kelly, and Lynn and Randy Tei, and dedicated and loving caregivers Ely Stevens and Edna Buisan.

A memorial mass and reception will be held at the Church of the Nativity on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 11:00 a.m., 210 Oak Grove Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025. Please come to celebrate her life and remember her smile.

"…'cause when you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you!"

Joy Higgins - Wife, Mother, Grandmother, and friend extraordinaire.

"We tried our best" -Joy Higgins

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Published in San Francisco Chronicle on July 27, 2014
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