John T. Higgins 1937-2018

MIDLAND, Mich. — John Thomas Higgins, 81, of Midland, Mich., entered into the arms of our Lord and Savior Saturday, April 21, 2018, at home surrounded by his family.

He was born April 12, 1937, in Youngstown, the son of the late John Thomas and Katherine Ervin Higgins.

Jack began his education in Niles, and continued at Illinois Institute of Technology on a full-ride scholarship in Chicago. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in fire protection and safety engineering, he married Janet Spencer in 1959, and began his professional career as a fire insurance inspector for the Ohio Inspection Bureau in Cleveland and Youngstown. In 1962, he moved to Sayville, N.Y., and worked at the Brookhaven National Laboratory as a fire protection engineer for the nuclear research laboratory and presented safety programs for the employees. In 1966, he moved his family to Midland and began working at Dow Corning Corporation. He was responsible for plant fire protection, safety and security. While working mostly in Midland, his work took him to plants around the world. While managing the Midland Plant Department for Safety and Security, he was known in the corporation “and at home” as “Mr. Safety,” and would always be recognized in his hard hat and safety glasses when entering the various offices and plants. In 1998, after 32 years, he finished his career in the Midland Plant Environmental Services Department. He was responsible for the disposal of all waste materials including the waste water system, blending hazardous waste for shipments off site, hazardous waste landfill and treatment processes, all air permits and recycling programs.

Jack, as he was fondly called by everyone he knew, was a Registered Professional Engineer in Michigan, and a certified safety and fire protection professional. Jack was an outgoing and friendly man who never let a stranger pass by. He volunteered all his life beginning with the Boy Scouts and Junior Achievement in Midland. Aldersgate United Methodist Church was an integral part of his life where he served in many capacities as treasurer, newsletter editor, United Way Sharing Tree coordinator, board of trustees and the senior luncheon coordinator. He was the church ambassador every Sunday, where a stranger became an instant friend.

The Midland Kiwassee Kiwanis Club was his favorite organization and he served the group well. He received two Zeller Fellowship awards for his many years of service as an officer and board member. The Midland community drew him to the Historical Society and the Midland Center For The Arts, where he was a guide and docent. The Midland Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals was where he served up until his death. Senior services was where Jack helped others with Medicare counseling and tax preparation. He was involved for many years with The National Fire Protection Association in Boston, where he served as chair.

Jack loved to travel all his life and went to many countries around the world, with Janet during his first marriage, and then with Nancy, during the four years of their marriage. Jack and Nancy traveled extensively from the equator to the North Pole and from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean. His other hobbies were stamp collecting, reading, theater, dancing, gardening, baseball with son, John, and being with family.

Surviving Jack are his wife, Nancy Stark Higgins, whom he married on Jan. 4, 2014; and his children, who learned many valuable life lessons growing up. The most important legacy of Jack’s life was his childrens’ accomplishments; and he was always so proud of them.

Jack and Janet raised their four children together and in 2013, Janet passed away. The four J’s are Judith Sartor and Joan (David) Paquet, both of Livonia, Jennifer (Wade) Wheeler of Hope and John (Tiffany) C. Higgins of Coleman; and stepdaughter, Lisa (Dennis) Fales of Midland.

Also surviving are grandchildren, Chadd (Tabby) Powell of Plainfield, Courtney Sartor of Denver, Nichole (Rob) Higgins of Midland, Christina Robertson of Key West, Leurissa (Jordan) Timm of Bay City and Allison Fales of Madison Heights; great-grandchildren, Willow and Oliver of Midland and Nic Higgins of Beaverton; sister, Suzanne (Ron) Humphreys of Denver; and three Humphreys nephews.

The celebration of his life will begin 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 26, at Wilson Miller Funeral Home, 4210 N. Saginaw Road, Midland, Mich. The Christian celebration will begin with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. and service at 11 a.m. Friday, April 27, 2018, at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Midland.

A luncheon will be served immediately following in the church fellowship hall. Pastor Michael Sawicki will officiate and private graveside services will be with immediate family.

Because of his love of his church and service to the community, donations may be made to Aldersgate United Methodist Church and Midland Kiwassee Kiwanis Club.

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