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Thomas Higgins


1944 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Thomas Higgins Obituary
Thomas John Higgins

November 7th, 1944 – March 21st, 2018

Thomas John Higgins, noted California rock climber, died in Oakland, California at 73 years old. Tom was born in Huntington Park, CA, only son of James Joseph and Mary Frances (née Madoni) Higgins. He was raised in Sherman Oaks and attended Notre Dame High School. In 1967 he graduated from UCLA with a BS in Engineering. He earned a Master of Public Policy degree from UC Berkeley in 1974 and lived in Oakland thereafter. Tom was a loving husband for 45 years to Nancy Dyar who survives him. Tom was proud father to Dr. Alanna Higgins Joyce (Timothy), adored "BaTom" to grandsons Charles and Thomas, and inspiration to many nieces and nephews.

As a rock climber, Tom logged numerous first and free ascents and many of his climbs have become classics. He climbed throughout California—Stoney Point, Yosemite Valley, Tuolomne Meadows, Tahquitz Rock, Joshua Tree and Pinnacles National Parks. He also climbed across the United States and had first ascents in the United Kingdom and French Alps. Tom wrote extensively about the experience of climbing. His perspectives on the virtues of "traditional" versus "sport" style pioneered an entire philosophy of climbing. Tom spoke often of the pull between the "sanctuary" of the mountains and the regular life of the "flat world."

After 10 years as a consultant to the Urban Institute in Washington DC, Tom founded KT Analytics in 1984. Over a 40-year career, he and his business partner collaborated with local, national, and international organizations seeking to reduce traffic congestion and address air quality and energy problems. Tom and his partner have been recognized as leading experts in congestion pricing of roadway facilities.

Tom was an adventurous, fun-loving, and passionate soul. He and Nancy enjoyed life together in all ways: designing and executing home improvements, hiking, camping, and attending the Oakland Symphony. They explored the world, including New Zealand, Japan, Iceland, Nepal, Patagonia, Costa Rica, and Bolivia. Tom loved cycling in the Oakland Hills. He read and wrote fiction and poetry and was active in the California Writers Club. He had a mechanical inclination and loved solving problems tiny and huge. Tom was a gregarious "ray of light" whose skilled listening, articulate speech, and endless curiosity helped others better understand themselves.

Tom wrote in 2014: "I find the fire of days on walls still with me." Let us hope he has found easy rest somewhere on those walls. His legacy as a climber, husband, father, grandfather and friend will live within us all.

Memorial contributions may be directed to the Yosemite Conservancy at www.yosemiteconservancy.org/honor-someone-special or to the National Alliance of Mental Illness at NAMI.org.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Mar. 26, 2018
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