James M Higgins, 81

James M Higgins, age 81 of Stevens Point passed away at the Marshfield Medical Center on Tuesday with his loving family at his side.

Jim was born on June 10, 1936 in Richfield, Wis., son of John W. Higgins and Isabella M. (Laubenheimer) Higgins. He was married on June 2, 1962 in Necedah, Wis. to Joanne E. Van Hoof, and is survived by his wife Joanne, Stevens Point; four children: Joe (Leisa) Higgins Rosholt, Bill (Mary) Higgins Hobart, Wis., Kathy (Clark) Gessel Layton, Utah, and Mike (Erin) Higgins Sparta, NJ.

They were blessed with 13 grandchildren: Jessica Eul, Lexie Eul, Jack Higgins, Jenelle Higgins, Isaac Higgins, Emily Higgins, Kristina Gessel, Michelle (Steven) Proctor, Kathryn (Terry) Didericksen, Ben Gessel, Amanda Gessel, Carter Higgins and Grace Higgins.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, John and Isabella (Laubenheimer) Higgins, and brothers William (Marlene) and Thomas (Nona).

Jim was a graduate of P.J. Jacobs High School, Class of 1954, and was a state champion hurdler. Jim received his undergrad degree from Ripon College – Class of 1958. He received his M.A. degree from Colorado State College in 1962.

Jim was a teacher and coach at Hancock Grade School, Plainfield Tri-County High School, Reedsville High School and P.J. Jacobs High School 1959-1966 – coaching football, basketball and track. Jim was a driver education teacher at SPASH until his retirement in 1994, developing a three-phase instruction program.

Jim served in the U.S. Army Reserve – receiving his officer commission while at Ripon College in 1958. He was Commander of the 213th Supply and Service Battalion, and 376th Finance unit in Wausau, and a graduate and instructor in the Army Command and General Staff College.

He retired in 1988 with the rank of Lt. Colonel, and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal.

Family was a focus in Jim’s life – traveling to see relatives near and far. With Joanne’s help, he researched his lineage, and located his relatives in Ireland, making several trips back to Ireland. Jim enjoyed the outdoors and loved camping, hunting and fishing and was an accomplished skier. He and Joanne traveled after retirement, from Alaska to New Zealand, from Europe to the southwest and spent 23 winters in Oahu.

An avid sports fan, he enjoyed attending area football and basketball games, often traveling to see his grandchildren play.

Jim also served his community as a past President of the Stevens Point Safety Counsel, a board member of the Portage County Red Cross, a member of the Mid-State Epilepsy Foundation, and a past President of the Reserve Officers Association (ROA) Southern Wisconsin.

He was also a member of the Stevens Point Area Teacher Association, Wisconsin & National Education Association, and served as president of the Wisconsin Driver & Traffic Safety Association.

Visitation will be held at the Shuda Funeral Home, 3200 Stanley Street, in Stevens Point on Friday night from 5:00 to 8:00pm, and Saturday from 1-2 PM at St. Stanislaus/Holy Spirit Parish with funeral services at 2 PM with Rev. Tom Lindner. Internment will follow at St. Mary’s Church in Custer, Wis. with full Military Honors.

Jim will always be remembered as a very thoughtful, positive, generous and caring friend, father and husband. He will be greatly missed and will remain forever in our hearts.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to one of the following; Pacelli Excellence in Education fund, Wounded Warriors, Stevens Point Area Retired Teachers Association

Online condolences may be sent by visiting www.shudafuneral.com.

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