BANGOR – Leo J. Higgins Sr., 91, died peacefully May 18, 2012, surrounded by his loving family at a Bangor hospital. He was born July 27, 1920, in Hermon, the son of Catherine (Steele) and Thomas Higgins.
Leo later grew up on New York Street, Bangor, with his nine siblings. He was proud of his family, his Irish Catholic heritage, and he would often say "there were two kinds of people in this world, those that were Irish and those that wish they were." Leo attended St. Mary’s Catholic School and John Bapst High School, where he excelled in sports. Leo was a veteran of World War II, serving with the U.S. Army, 243rd Field Artillery Battalion in Europe. Although he was a humble man, Leo in recent years spoke of capturing a German spy single handedly during the war. During his service years he competed in the GI Olympics for boxing, track and diving. Leo had a deep respect for the men he served with during World War II, and he attended yearly military reunions since the war reminiscing with his friends of the 243rd, "Deus Vult." Leo met and married the love of his life, Hilda M. (Barry) Higgins prior to his military service. They were blessed with a marriage of 63 years and raised 13 children together. Leo and Hilda shared a true love and they both loved to dance and sing. Dancing to "Big Band" music was a treat for spectators at dances throughout the years and also for their children who sometimes caught a peek of their dancing skills while at home. It was also a treat to hear Leo pay the harmonica. Leo was employed as a railroad engineer for Maine Central Railroad for 45 years before retiring in 1990. Leo was also the union president for United Transportation Union for many years while employed through MCRR. Leo was a devout Catholic and he had a deep faith in God and his Catholic religion. He also had a deep and compassionate love for his family and John Bapst High School, some days it was a toss up which he loved more. Throughout the years you could find Leo at many games supporting the Crusaders and cheering fiercely. He also came to be very well known by the officials of these sporting events. Leo was very giving and for more than 20 years handed out a cold soda to every John Bapst High School Varsity football player following every away game. Many people commented throughout the years that Leo bled purple and white. Leo was a wonderful son, brother, father, grandfather and friend. He was loving and gentle. He was extremely proud of his children and he took pride in their accomplishments during the years. Leo was also very proud of his grandchildren and he enjoyed spending time with family no matter what the occasion. Leo especially loved spending time at his camp on Beech Hill Pond. He enjoyed mixing cement and creating marvelous walkways at "the lake" while encouraging his children and grandchildren to collect and pick rocks for these projects.
Leo is survived by his daughter-in-law, Lucy Higgins and grandson, James, of Bangor; son, Barry Higgins and fiancee, Nancy Miller, of Connecticut and grandchildren, Nick, Carissa, David, Keri, Angela and Sara; son, Richard Higgins and his wife, Gale, of Pittsburg, Calif., and granddaughter, Leanna; daughter, Irene Higgins of Bradley; daughter, Cynthia Prescott and her husband, David, of Newburgh and granddaughters, Theresa and Jaime; daughter, Cheryl Higgins of South Portland; daughter, Patricia Delong and her husband, Ross, of Orrington and grandchildren, Christie, Brad and Adam; daughter, Tammie Higgins of Portland; son, Mark Higgins and his wife, Pauline, of Bangor and granddaughters, Ashley, Rachel and Madison; son, John Higgins and his wife, Kristy, of Glenburn and grandsons, J.J. and Wilson; son, Tim Higgins and his wife, Kristine, of Glenburn and granddaughters, Emily and Katherine; son, Peter Higgins and his fiancee, Denise D’Amboise, of Bangor and granddaughter, Morgan; daughter, Jackie Ireland and her husband, Lew, of Brewer and grandchildren, Alexis and Garrett; 11 great-grandchildren; his sister, Virginia Winchester; and special friends, Tammie Thayer and Bob Cadorette. Leo was predeceased by his wife, Hilda M. Higgins; his oldest son, Leo J. Higgins Jr.; brothers, Thomas, Johnny, George and Richard Higgins; and his sisters, Mary Connors, Kay Brooks, Annie Henry and Alma Mourkas. The family would like to thank the staff at the Maine Veterans Home, Bangor, and the medical and nursing staff at Eastern Maine Medical Center for the excellent, kind and compassionate care provided to our Dad, Leo.
Relatives and friends are welcome to call 5-8 p.m. Monday, May 21, at Brookings-Smith, 133 Center St., Bangor. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 22, at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, St. John Catholic Church, 207 York St., Bangor. Interment will be at Mount Pleasant Catholic Cemetery, Bangor. The family invites relatives and friends to share conversation and refreshments at St. John Catholic Church after the interment. Those who wish to remember Leo in a special way may make gifts to the Leo J. Higgins Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, care of Mel MacKay, John Bapst Memorial High School, 100 Broadway, Bangor, ME 04401. Condolences to the family may be expressed at