Arthur R. Higginbottom

[ Age 97 ] The Talbot County public schools official led the effort to build that county YMCA's present building.

December 06, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Arthur R. Higginbottom, a retired Talbot County public school official and former county YMCA president, died of heart failure Thursday at Memorial Hospital in Easton. The longtime Tunis Mills resident was 97.

Mr. Higginbottom was born and raised in Millbury, Mass., a suburb of Worcester. At Clark University in Worcester, he earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry and physics in 1932 and a master's in chemistry and guidance in 1941.

While directing the New York Herald Tribune Fresh Air Fund's camp on the Hudson River during college summers, Mr. Higginbottom met and fell in love with the former Roberta MacRae, who also worked for the program. They were married in 1941.

In the 1930s, Mr. Higginbottom began his career in Millbury public schools teaching chemistry and physics, and was a high school vice principal and guidance counselor when he enlisted in the Navy in 1942. He attained the rank of lieutenant and taught celestial navigation at Bunker Hill, Ind., and Norfolk and Chincoteague, Va.

In 1946, Mr. Higginbottom moved to Talbot County when he took a job as a guidance counselor at Easton High School. The next year, he was promoted to supervisor of high schools, and in 1974 was named assistant superintendent of schools.

"Art was a good man and handled the curriculum and instructional program," said Norman J. Moore, retired Talbot schools superintendent. "He was a consensus builder and could talk to anyone. He was awfully good at getting teachers to work together."

Mr. Higginbottom, who enjoyed reading and writing poetry, submitted his letter of retirement in 1977 to school board officials in the form of a poem, which read in part:

Then as the years begin to ebb and flow,

There comes that gentle feeling of an afterglow,

A feeling of years well spent,

A sense of pleasure, hard work and good intent,

A mixture of anticipation and achievement,

All of which leads to my retirement.

As president of the Talbot YMCA in the late 1960s, Mr. Higginbottom led the effort that resulted in construction of the organization's present building.

"Art was a fine man and an ideal YMCA leader because he faced the same situations in his work as an educator. He knew Talbot County youth and their needs," said Kenneth W. Barton, former YMCA executive director.

Mr. Higginbottom was a longtime member of the Talbot Country Club, where he enjoyed golfing.

"He was still playing and had recently shot his age," said a daughter, Pamela Lee Carey of Towson.

He was a longtime communicant of All Faith Chapel, an Episcopal church where he and his wife, who died in August, published The Church Scroll, its monthly newsletter.

Mr. Higginbottom kept a carefully folded copy of the Elizabeth Barrett Browning sonnet "How do I love thee?" in his wallet next to a college-era picture of his wife, family members said.

A memorial service will be held at noon today at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Easton.

Also surviving are two sons, Dr. Philip A. Higginbottom of Leucadia, Calif., and Dr. Mark A. Higginbottom of Easton; another daughter, Claudia Parsons of West Chester, Pa.; a sister, Ruth Ellen Higginbottom of South Yarmouth, Mass.; and nine grandchildren.

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