John Francis Higginson II
John Francis Higginson II, born Feb 24, 1947 in Rochester, Minnesota, was the first-born son of John F. Higginson MD and Frances E. Higginson (aka Pat, nee Haworth). The budding family moved to Portland, Oregon and John spent his childhood years going to school and visiting his grandparents on their waterfront acreage in Friday Harbor until he and his parents, along with 3 siblings, moved to Santa Barbara in the summer of 1958.
The late 1950’s and 1960’s was a great time to come of age for John, especially in Santa Barbara. There were sunshine and muscle cars. Upper State Street was mostly orchards dotted with the occasional house making the trip to Goleta a long drive thru the country. As in so many towns, the 60’s arrived like a cloud of pixie dust mixed with high octane fuel. While John was immersing himself in his brave new world, tragedy struck the family when John’s mother Pat was killed by a drunk driver. Pat Higginson was “the” force of nature that bonded the family together in changing times. Her random, senseless death was something nobody in the family ever got over. For John, the bonds of friendship he had been forming in the world outside strengthened and sustained him.
The trip out of the adolescent frying pan into the fire of the late ‘60’s and adulthood was taken on the seat of John’s ’56 hard-tail Harley Davidson with a growing group of biker friends that he has since kept up with all his life. While there are many tales to tell as they crisscrossed the country, most are best left to our imaginations. New Orleans, however, and the annual Mardi Gras celebrations were instrumental in refining John’s love for the blues and for his friends.
Professionally, John initially worked as a supervisor at Infomag in Goleta. Later on, he started a landscape business in Santa Barbara. He then moved to San Pedro to run a Midas Muffler franchise. John had always enjoyed working on cars. As for most of us, the necessity to earn a living has a way taking decades out of the middle of our lives, and John was no exception. Nevertheless, John and his friends found time for skiing, camping and his love of for the blues, making trips to the Strawberry Festival, and the annual biker reunions where music was central. After he sold off the Midas Franchise, he returned to Santa Barbara to work as an Aerospace technical engineer assembling solar panels for orbiting satellites. While living on a boat in the SB harbor, he saved enough to buy a house in Washington and, in 2015, moved to the lovely rural town of Toledo.
Unbeknownst to us all, this was when John began suffering from Alzheimer’s. You don’t really see Alzheimer’s at first. Who doesn’t forget things now and then? The formal diagnosis came in a couple of years. For anybody, Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease, slowly undermining the skills and intellect that make a person what s/he is, but for John, a self-made, individualist proud of his friendships, and very protective of his hard-won freedom it seemed especially cruel. He doggedly hung in there until September of 2020, when his rapid decline persuaded us to move him to an adult family care home. In a few short months, on December 28, 2020, John succumbed. He was 73.
He leaves behind the families of his brother Chris Higginson and sisters Heather Burns and Stephanie Nicolait, and a legion of the best friends any one could ask for. We will all remember John as he was: A well-loved rugged individualist, bachelor, lover of the blues, biker, friend and brother. The Bike is being restored to its former glory by John’s friends in Washington. Services are being planned in Santa Barbara, where he will be interred.