Richard E. Higgins

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  • "I was fortunate enough to have met Richard and Phyllis on..."
  • "Godspeed, old friend"
    - Janet Beyer
  • "I am so blessed to be part of Uncle Dick's family and..."
    - Sue Huston-Allen
  • "I had the pleasure of meeting Richard at Aubuchon Hardware...."
    - Rosalie Rogers
  • "I am saddened to learn of Richard's death, and send my..."
    - Gina Logan
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NORTHFIELD - Richard Elliot Higgins, 87, died Thursday, June 21st 2012, at his home in Northfield.

He was born Sept. 3, 1924, in Newton, Mass. to John Wesley Sayles and Layne Davis Sayles but lovingly adopted by Willard Elliot and Grace Brown Higgins. Upon graduation from Newton High School, he immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy serving first in England. Later, he served as a gunner on the U.S.S Mayrant DD-402 a destroyer in the Asiatic/Pacific theatre.

While patrolling off the coast of Japan on Aug. 6, 1945, he witnessed the mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. No one on the ship understood the significance of that moment or for the future. Through the years Richard has been very moved by his proximity to such a world changing tragedy.

On Dec. 30, 1950, he married Phyllis Inskip of Glen Ridge, N.J. They recently celebrated 61 great years together. They moved to Northfield in 1963.

His education first included a degree from Curry College of Boston in radio broadcasting followed by employment at Station WSYB in Rutland. He then graduated from Massachusetts State Teacher's College in Fitchburg, Mass. with a degree in education. Richard taught in Reading, Mass. and Trinity Pawling School for Boys in New York, before joining Raytheon Corporation (missile systems division) in Waltham, Mass. as a standards engineer.

He later graduated from UVM with a M.Ed. Administration. As a consultant for the state of Vermont in the Trades, Industrial and Technical Education Department, Richard helped plan and establish many of the state's technical schools as well as establishing the first Vermont chapter of the Vocational-Industrial Clubs of America (VICA), a national organization for vocational students. He also initiated Vermont's participation in the nation-wide Chrysler/Plymouth trouble-shooting contest for automotive students.

After retiring from the state, he and Phyllis started an emu farm on the old Dog River Fairgrounds in Northfield. As pioneers in this endeavor, together they helped develop a corporation of several farms that continues to prosper.

Always willing to contribute to the community, he became the first president of Northfield Observances, a position he delighted in for 10 years. He delivered Meals On Wheels and drove the D.A.V. van for veteran's appointments at the hospital in White River Junction. As a volunteer for WE CARE (now CERV), he worked in many helping capacities. In 2004, he served as the VFW commander Post 6674. He was a member of the United Methodist Church and the Northfield Bible Fellowship.

In earlier years, he was an avid mountain climber, introducing his young children to the grandeur of mountains. He equally loved the ocean, instilling that love in his family also. As a knowledgeable devotee of ocean liners and trains, Richard occasionally lectured to fellow enthusiasts. His gardening prowess was the envy of the neighborhood. He read avidly and thoroughly enjoyed classical music especially voices of tenors.

However, it was his faith in Jesus Christ that strengthened and sustained him through his many years of physical struggles.

Richard's home and family were the most important of all his many interests. He dedicated his life to their health, well being and development of outstanding work ethics.

Survivors include his wife, Phyllis of Northfield and four children: Scott Willard Higgins, Jonathan Seeley Higgins of Northfield, Amy Adams Higgins of Tybee Island, Ga., Thompson Eben Higgins of Rye, N.H.; eight grandchildren Timothy Higgins of East Calais, Robert Higgins of Northfield, Alicia Jespersen of White River, Gabrielle Rowse of Savanna, Ga., Sharasa Culberson-Higgins of Laconia, N.H., Connor Elliot Frazier of Northfield and Ryan and Finley Higgins of Rye, N.H.; five great-grandchildren Jasen and James Higgins, Payton Rowse, Levi Higgins and Natalie Higgins as well as many treasured nephews and nieces. Richard cherished time with his family - recently saying, after a family visit, that it was the best time he had ever had.

His beloved sister Elizabeth Hassell survives him in Florida. He was predeceased by a sister Ruth Huston and a brother Willard Wentworth.

A memorial service will be held at the Northfield Methodist Church Sunday, July 15 at 1:30 p.m. followed by fellowship in the church hall.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to Teen Challenge Vermont, 1296 Collins Hill Rd. Johnson, VT 05656 or The Veteran's Place Inc. 220 Vine St., Northfield, VT 05663.

Arrangements are under the direction of Kingston Funeral Home.
Published in Times Argus on July 2, 2012
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