James Conway Higgins, passed away peacefully at home on November 30, 2017, at the age of 87.
He is preceded in death by his beloved wife of 56 years, Mildred S. Higgins.
He is survived by their ten children: Jamie H. Eason, James C. Higgins, II, John H. Higgins, Michael P. Higgins, Joseph E. Higgins, Thomas A. Higgins, Mary P. Bell, Vincent L. Higgins, Genevieve A. Cardile, and Katherine F. Nunez and 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
He was born in Beckley, West Virginia on January 22, 1930 to James S. Higgins and Florence Conway Higgins. He was a life-long parishioner of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. He attended Stanton Military Academy where he graduated in June 1948. He attended and graduated the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana in May 1952 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce. He went on to receive his Certified Public Accounting certification from the state of Indiana and continued his education and dream of becoming a lawyer by attending the University of Notre Dame School of Law, graduating in June 1955.
He worked in the family business, Higgins Grocery Company, while studying for the West Virginia Bar Exam. He passed the bar exam with Honors, and was certified to practice law by the Supreme Court of Appeals of WV in April 1956.
Mr. Higgins was employed as an in-house attorney for Huelett Smith prior to opening the law firm of Higgins & Gorman. He then worked as a solo practitioner prior to joining the firm of Persinger & Company. After twelve years with this company, he joined the firm of Rist, Higgins & Associates where he practiced law until he retired at the age of 85.
Among his many accomplishments included serving as the City of Beckley Police Commissioner for ten years. In 1968, Mr. Higgins argued before the West Virginia Supreme Court regarding whether public busing for parochial school students would be paid for with public funds. The Supreme Court ruled in Mr. Higgins' favor, allowing public funding for the busing of parochial school students. He was awarded the Father Kerrigan Council of the Fourth Degree of Knights of Columbus award for his outstanding work in the busing lawsuit. The lawsuit impacted all parochial school students throughout the state. In the estate planning area of law, Mr. Higgins drafted and enacted the first Clifford Trust in West Virginia for the Conway family.
Mr. Higgins was an avid tennis player and a member of the Men's Tennis Club who donated the Ewart Avenue clay courts to the city of Beckley to make more tennis courts available to all ages of tennis players. He helped organize tennis tournaments with the resident tennis pro at The Greenbriar for the Annual Coal Rodeo.
He enjoyed spending summers with family and friends at his resident on Martha's Vineyard in the town of Aquinnah, Massachusetts.
He was a very active parishioner at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, and also worked on a committee with the Archdiocese of Wheeling in assisting in the drafting of Vatican II. He taught CCD religion classes for twelve years at St. Francis de Sales.
Most importantly, Mr. Higgins leaves a lasting legacy of faith, love, and an undying belief in his family and the Roman Catholic Church.
Mr. Higgins donated his remains to the Human Gift Registry at the West Virginia University School of Medicine in Morgantown.
A Memorial Mass will be held at St. Francis de Sales Church at 11:00 am on December 19, 2017, visitation will begin at 10 am at the church.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that donations be made to the Alzheimer's Association of West Virginia, 1601 2nd Avenue, Charleston, WV 25387.
Published on December 4, 2017