Donald P. Higgins Sr., 83, of Woodbine Street, passed away on May 1, 2021 at Rhode Island Hospital after a short illness. He was the beloved husband of Gloria A. (Jacobson) Higgins for 55 years before her passing in 2017.
Born in Providence, a son of the late Clifton L. and Mildred F. (Battey) Higgins, his family moved to Warwick and in 1956 he was in the first class to graduate from the new Veteran’s Memorial High School. Later in life, while working full-time and raising his family, Donald graduated in 1978 from Johnson & Wales College receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in business management. Donald grew up singing in the choir at All Saints Memorial Church in Providence. He was a communicant of St. David’s on-the-Hill (Episcopal) Church, Cranston where he and Gloria were married and where their children attended Sunday school. Church functions and activities at St. David’s were a big part of their lives. Don served on the church vestry while Gloria enjoyed volunteering and baking for the social gatherings.
He worked from 1963-1976 at several Industrial National Bank offices around RI. He proudly served from 1976-1985 as an aircraft maintenance technician with the 143rd Airlift Wing of the R.I.A.N.G. stationed at the Quonset State Airport in North Kingstown and for the U.S. Department of Defense from 1985-1997 as a maintenance analysis specialist working on aerospace weapons systems. After 23 years of military service, Don retired in 1998 with the rank of Master Sergeant. In retirement, Don worked for many years as a driver for Arrow Limousine, now Arrow-Prestige Limousine, of Warwick and as a director’s assistant at Carpenter-Jenks Funeral Homes in Providence and West Warwick.
Donald was proud to be a member of the Masonic Fraternity. He was elected four times, in 1966, 1987, 1988, and 1989, as Worshipful Master of Corinthian Lodge #27, now affiliated with St. John’s Lodge #1P. He was also an honorary member of Mt. Vernon Lodge #4 and Adelphoi Lodge #33. He belonged to the Scottish Rite, Valley of Providence; Providence Chapter #1 R.A.M., Providence Council #1, Calvary Commandery #13 Knights Templar, the Masonic Veterans Association of RI, and the National Sojourners Narragansett Bay Chapter #14. As a member of the Rhode Island Shriners Artisan Unit, he marched in many parades throughout New England. For 10 years Don served the Masonic Grand Lodge of Rhode Island as a Right Worshipful Assistant Grand Lecturer. In 1998, he was awarded an Exemplary Service Medal by the Grand Lodge of RI, and in 2010 he received a Grand Lodge Veterans Medal for his 50-years of membership in the Craft. Don truly enjoyed the camaraderie and friendships he fostered by regularly attending meetings at various Lodges throughout the State. St. John’s Lodge #1P presented him a 60-year membership pin in 2020.
He was a skilled athlete enjoying water-skiing, playing hockey and volleyball, and bowling. An avid softball player, he continued playing senior softball into his 70’s. He was a lifelong sports fan and enjoyed visiting Red Sox spring training camp while he and Gloria, along with dear friends, spent several months during the winter in Fort Myers, FL. Donald and Gloria owned several recreational vehicles over the years and enjoyed camping and making treasured friends across New England. After retiring, Don and Gloria enjoyed volunteering to transport families to the Shrine Children’s Hospital in Springfield, MA.
He was the brother of the late Melvin V. Higgins, Rilma F. Summerer, and Roland L. Higgins, all of Warwick, RI. Don and Gloria had three children: Donna S. Young and her husband William of New Durham NH, Donald P. “Butch” Higgins Jr. and his wife Suzanne of Cranston, and Jennifer M. Pate and her husband Frank of Cranston. He is survived also by his three grandchildren: Michaela Tewksbury of Newbury NH, Jill Young of Newbury NH, and Alexander Pate of Cranston. Don was also blessed with a great-grandson, Collin Tewksbury. He leaves behind also many nieces and nephews with whom he adored dancing and laughing with at spirited family celebrations.
His funeral service will be held at Carpenter-Jenks Funeral Home, 659 East Greenwich Avenue, West Warwick on Monday, May 10 at 11:00 a.m. Visitation will be prior to the service from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.. A Masonic memorial service will be conducted at the funeral home during the funeral service. Burial, with military honors, will be in the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Exeter. Facemasks must be worn, and social distancing practiced at the funeral home and at the cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory made to Shriners Hospitals For Children, 51 Blossom Street, Boston, MA 02114 or to Shriners Hospitals For Children, 516 Carew Street, Springfield, MA 01104-2396 would be appreciated.
Condolences may also be offered to his family and remembrances of Donald shared online at www.carpenterjenks.com.