Pat Higgins passed away on February 25th, 2023, at the age of 100 years (just a few weeks until her 101st birthday) with family and loving friends by her side. She leaves to cherish her memory her daughter, Sue (Donna Steele) Higgins; sons, John Higgins and David (Jodi) Higgins; grandchildren, Dane Higgins and children, Evelyn, Ruby and their mother, Kate; Christine Higgins (Johnny Braune) and children, Julian and Sienna; Graeme Higgins (Christine) and son, Wesley. Pat was predeceased by her parents, Arthur and Lucy Mitchell; brother, John Mitchell (1944); husband, Gordon Higgins (2009); daughter-in-law, Jeanette Higgins (2020).
Pat was born in South End on Sea, England. The family immigrated to Canada in 1928, settling in the Town of Mount Royal, just outside of Montreal. Pat made many friends on her life journey, young or old, and whenever she met up with you, her genuine smile would warm your heart. The Canadian Girls’ First Aid and Life Saving Core played an important role in Pat’s growing up years, where she learned horseback riding, competitive rifle shooting, playing the bass drum in the marching band, and first aid. Pat’s rifle team entered a Commonwealth event against women and men, and their team won.
Pets were always an important part of Pat’s life and brought comfort and joy to her even a week before her passing, when she had a special 4-legged visitor which brought that memorable smile to her face. A favourite family dog was “Chummy”, and his usual place in the home was beside brother John’s chair. Chummy seemed to know when John was tragically killed in the war, as Chummy started sitting in John’s chair and seemed very sad. One night Chummy went outside, Gordon saw him and called after him, but Chummy did not respond, even though he knew Gordon. That was the last time they saw Chummy. He must have known he was near the end of his life.
Pat and Gordon were married on May 24, 1947 and celebrated 62 years of marriage. They lived in the Town of Mount Royal, Toronto, Montreal, St. Catharines, Oshawa, Burlington and 5 years in Grand Cayman, before returning to Canada and to Victoria, B.C. as Pat’s mother needed help in her home, so they moved in with her as care givers. Over the years of raising 3 children, many pet dogs, cats and even birds had adventures in their homes. Neighbours became life long friends and still corresponded to this day.
Pat loved to travel – she did enjoy several land vacations to Singapore, Costa Rica, Spain, and England – but having spent many years in Oak Bay across from the marina, the ocean was her true love. She joined Gordon along with other family members and friends on numerous cruises, including itineraries in the Mediterranean, Canada-New England, Panama Canal, Pacific Coast, Trans-Atlantic, Hawaii, Caribbean, and Alaska.
Pat and Gordon were avid duplicate bridge players when they lived in Grand Cayman and also in Victoria, BC. They competed in and won many competitions. After Gordon’s passing, Pat decided to move to Medicine Hat in 2011 to be closer to family, and resided in independent living for 5 years at Chinook Village. Pat continued with duplicate bridge at the Veiner Senior Center and enjoyed meeting new people and was always up for a game of bridge.
Pat learned to use a computer in her 80’s and would email, Facetime and Skype with friends and family throughout her later years. During covid her tablet was used daily to connect with family to see grandchildren and great grandchildren. Often the great granddaughters would do their gymnastic routines for Grandma Pat to watch. She enjoyed watching the performances! During covid, son John, in Toronto, decided to relearn playing the piano and almost nightly played for Pat on her phone or tablet. Thank goodness for Facetime and multi media ways to communicate during those 3 years of feeling isolated.
Pat made the decision to move to assisted living in Chinook Village, where all the meals were prepared and care was provided as needed. This was a cozy corner suite with lots of windows for Pat to grow plants of all kinds. She started lemon trees and tomato plants from seed, and gave them away to anyone who wanted them. She truly did have a green thumb. She also knit mitts, toques and scarves to give away or to be donated to the yearly Chinook Village craft fair.
Pat loved to watch sports on TV, especially curling in the winter, baseball in the summer and British television and old movies any time she could.
Her memory for names, dates, places and past events stayed with her right to the end. She remembered calendar appointments without need of the calendar, she could discuss world news with anyone as she kept up-to-date on what was happening, she could greet most of her care-givers by name almost right away after she met them, and would easily have won all of the old movie trivia contests (everyone wanted her on their trivia team!).
Pat also loved to go out to eat and had regular lunch dates with friends at Argos and Sabai restaurants. She took great pride in her appearance as she loved nice clothes and jewelry, and was always ready and waiting for her pick up ride when going out. Sue and Donna organized many cultural and musical events as well as meals out. John and wife Jeanette (now deceased) and David and his wife Jodi, continued to be a significant part of her life, visiting when they could and regularly calling from a distance to keep in touch. John, Dave, & Jodi, along with grandchildren, Pat’s niece Joanne, as well as Donna’s brother Tom, his wife Barb, and special niece, Heather with her two fur babies (Pat’s “besties”) all came to celebrate a year ago, for Pat’s 100th birthday, which was a week of fun events planned by Sue and Donna. Although the distance to travel was significant, the great grandchildren came to visit when they could and regular home-made cards and crafts came by mail to remind Pat of how loved she was.
Pat was an inspiration to all those who have known and loved her. She will be truly missed. Pat – Mum – Mom – Auntie – Grandma – Great Grandma – may you rest in peace, and on to the next adventure! We love you very much.
The family would like to thank the staff at Chinook Village for the years of care and support and to Haven View for being there for her end-of-life comfort care.
There will be no formal service held. In lieu of flowers, donations in Pat’s memory may be made to the Salvation Army (https://salvationarmy.ca/donation), World Wildlife Fund (www.wwf.ca) or any animal rescue society.
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