R.Paul Higgins

Obituary of R.Paul Higgins

DR. R. PAUL HIGGINS, JR.Dr. R. Paul Higgins, Jr., 95, a longtime resident of Cortland, New York, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at the Cortland Regional Medical Center.He was born in Cortland on June 23, 1915, the third child of Dr. R. Paul and Mabel Brewer Higgins. He grew up on Tompkins Street with his siblings Edward and Betsy (Plummer).Dr. Higgins attended the Campus School and was a graduate of Deerfield Academy (class of 1932) and Williams College (class of 1936). Following in the footsteps of his father, he earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins Medical School, graduating with honors in 1940, and remained there to begin his surgical internship.His residency was interrupted by the entry of the United States into World War II. In 1942, he joined the 18th General Hospital Unit organized by Johns Hopkins. He served as a Captain while stationed in New Zealand and the Fiji Islands. While in Fiji, he met his loving wife, Elima Kearsley. They married in July of 1944 in Suva.The hospital transferred to the China/Burma/India theater where Dr. Higgins was assigned to a portable surgical unit attached to the Chinese Army. They trekked through Burma. This proved to be a great adventure filled with many memories, which he often shared with his family. Dr. Higgins returned to the States for his final Army assignment at the Ashford General Hospital Neuro-vascular Center. This facility was temporarily housed in the beautiful Greenbriar Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, much to Paul and Elimas delight. After the war he returned to the residency program at Johns Hopkins Hospital. In 1948, he became Chief Resident of Surgery. He then took a position at the Kelley Cancer Clinic in Baltimore. With the death of his father, a noted Cortland physician, he returned to Cortland to establish practice with his brother Dr. Edward Higgins at the 20 Court Street family offices. Dr. Paul was regarded as a skilled, kind, and devoted surgeon. He retired in 1985.Among his many interests, Dr. Higgins was an avid sailor, alpine skier, and world traveler. He served as a long-term Rotarian and board member to Higgins Supply Company, Inc., Cortland County Board of Health, Greek Peak, Cortland Rural Cemetery Foundation, Cortland Line Company, and many other local organizations. His much-loved camp at Skaneateles Lake was a wonderful haven to him and his entire family.He is survived by his wife Elima Higgins of Cortland; son David (Cindy) of Evergreen, CO; daughter, Betsy H. Walters of Mahopac, NY; daughter, Susan (Scott Gill) of Bozeman, MT; six granddaughters; and three great grandchildren.A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on July 1, 2011 at the United Presbyterian Church in Cortland. There will be no calling hours. Contributions in Dr. Higgins memory may be made to the Cortland Memorial Foundation or the Lime Hollow Nature Center. I met you twice Dr. Paul and I was struck by your respect for others and by the dignity that you carried yourself with. You taught me something about life which will only make me a better physician. For that I thank you. We have lost a legend! Dr. Marc Settineri, Chief, Dept of Anesthesiology, CRMC
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