Eileen Higham

A psychologist, she counseled many clients, helped those with dyslexia and wrote a neighborhood history

May 01, 2010|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

Eileen Higham, a psychologist who wrote a history of the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood, died of complications from pneumonia April 25 at Roland Park Place. She was 88.

Born Eileen Moss on what she described in a memoir as a "bleak, windswept" Southern Wisconsin farm, she was the daughter of sharecroppers. The family farm had been foreclosed on, and "during the Great Depression the family moved frequently."

She told her children she attended eight elementary schools and five high schools. "Elementary school was mostly in one room school houses where [all ages] were taught all together," she wrote. She had to drop out of high school for three years to help out on the farm. None of her siblings completed high school.

She said she was "rescued" by an aunt who "staked her enough" to get her into the University of Wisconsin. During her freshman English class, she was captivated by what she was learning and all the "wonderful books" in the library. While at the school she met her future husband, John Higham, who went on to be a leading scholar of American history and ethnicity and a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University.

She received a bachelor of arts and a master's degree at Wisconsin and a doctorate at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The couple moved to Baltimore in 1972, and she became an instructor and assistant professor in medical psychology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In the middle 1970s, she was also an adjunct professor of psychology at Hopkins' Homewood campus. At Hopkins, she worked with John Money in his gender-identity and sex-reassignment clinic.

"She had a healthy dose of compassion and a healthy dose of determination," said a son, Jay Higham of Ridgefield, Conn. "She had high standards."

In 1976, Dr. Higham established a private practice on Wyndhurst Avenue in Roland Park and saw patients who had disorders dealing with education and learning and behavioral problems. She worked in marital and family counseling, and did children's and adolescent psychological testing.

Family members said she had many clients who sought her counsel for decades. She worked with those she helped until the week she died.

She also did volunteer supervision for the Dyslexia Tutoring Program in Baltimore in the Rotunda.

Later in life, she became interested in local history and architecture. She wrote a book on the history of Tuscany-Canterbury, the North Baltimore neighborhood where she lived for nearly 30 years. A 2002 Baltimore Sun article called her book, "the world outside her Tudor-style window."

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. May 8 at Roland Park Place, 830 W. 40th St., where she lived for the past seven years.

In addition to her son, survivors include another son, Daniel Higham of New York City; two daughters, Constance Vidor of New York City and Dr. Margaret Higham of Winchester, Mass.; two brothers, Daniel Moss and Leo Moss, both of Wisconsin; and seven grandchildren. Her husband of 55 years died in 2003.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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