Obituary of Elizabeth Higgins
Dr. Elizabeth Jeanne “Betty” (Franz) Higgins, 92, of Port Orange FL and Eldred NY, formerly of Queens NY and Norristown PA, passed away on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
As a teacher and principal, she was a visionary educator who researched and initiated the Open Classroom in the Colonial School District in PA and an early coordinator of the Head Start Program. She is a graduate of Hunter College in NY (BA, MA) and Temple University in Philadelphia (EdD).
Born in Queens NY, the daughter of Joseph Franz and Jennie (Bryson) Franz, she is preceded in death by her husband, Thomas Michael Higgins, her son Thomas (Anne), and her siblings: Sr. Mary Patricia Franz, O.P; Sr. Rose Marie Franz of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood; Rev. Joseph Franz; and James Franz.
She is survived by her daughters: LTC (Ret.) Mary Fletcher (Charles) of Fairfax, VA; LTC (Ret.) Elizabeth Higgins (Marc Gabriels) of Athens, GA; and Dr. Tracy Higgins of New York, NY, her three grandsons John (Lauren) Fletcher, Peter Fletcher and Michael Gabriels, and her two granddaughters Elizabeth (Piyush) Kundra and Genevieve (Alan) Burgmayer. She is great-grandmother to Charlie, Alia and Liam.
Dr. Higgins was a talented musician as a singer and pianist. She was devoted to the Roman Catholic Church and a parishioner at Our Lady of Hope Church in Port Orange, FL and St. Ann’s Church in Shohola, PA. In addition to her life in New York City and suburban Philadelphia, she and her family were passionate about spending every summer in her beloved mountains in Sullivan County, NY throughout her lifetime. She loved literature, especially works by Edwin O’Connor, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, and Martha Gellhorn. She admired the spiritual life and writing of Thomas Merton and visited his hermitage in Gethsemane, where she researched his monastic life to compose a groundbreaking essay. Dr. Higgins won numerous awards for her champion Irish Terriers at Westminster and her dog, Royal Bryson Ruler of Derry, was the first American-bred Irish Terrier to win Best of Breed at Cruft’s in Great Britain.
A Mass of the Resurrection will be held at St. Ann’s Church, Shohola, PA on Friday, June 24th at 10 o’clock a.m., officiated by Rev Edward Casey. Visitation for family and friends will be held on Thursday June 23rd from 6 to 8 o’clock p.m. at the Stroyan Funeral Home at 405 Harford Street in Milford, PA.
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