The Honorable Andrew Higgins (Veteran)
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The Honorable Andrew Jackson Higgins, 90, a native of Platte City, Missouri, and long time resident of Jefferson City, Missouri, died Wednesday, September 14, 2011, with his family of Kansas City by his side. He was born June 21, 1921, in Platte City, a son of Andrew Jervie and Frances Beverly Higgins. He was married October 30, 1948, in St. Louis to Laura Jo-an Brown who predeceased him in death March 6, 2009. A graduate of Platte City High School in 1939, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in music and a minor in English from Central Methodist College (now Central Methodist University) in 1943, and a Bachelor of Laws (now Juris Doctorate) from Washington University in 1948. He was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Music Fraternity, Delta Theta Phi Legal Fraternity and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Social Fraternity. He served as President of Central's Alumni Association, and was a member of the Board of Curators. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Central in 1973, and an Honorary Doctor of Laws in 1982. His law School conferred its Distinguished Alumni Award on him April 13, 2007. He enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve January 13, 1942, and was on active duty in World War II from May 1943 to July 1946, including service as Communications-Gunnery Officer, and Commanding Officer aboard LSM 325 in the Pacific Theater. He was a Charter and Life member of Platte County Memorial Post 4165 Veterans of Foreign Wars. In 1948, he returned to Platte City with his bride where he practiced law from 1948-1960. He served three terms as Prosecuting Attorney of Platte County and one term as Mayor of Platte City. In 1960, he was appointed Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit (Platte, Clinton, Andrew and DeKalb Counties) by Governor James T. Blair. He resigned in June 1964, when appointed by the Supreme Court of Missouri as a Commissioner on the Supreme Court. Governor Joseph P. Teasdale appointed him a judge of the Supreme Court in 1979, and he served until his mandatory retirement June 21, 1991. He was the Chief Justice 1985-1987. Following retirement, he became Of Counsel to Inglish & Monaco, P.C., in Jefferson City. Upon reflection over his 90 plus years, he felt fortunate to have lived a good life which he attributed to loving family and cherished friends who ranged from life long friends from his childhood to fellow alumni and musicians of Central Methodist College and Washington University, sailors, practitioners, neighbors, retirees, his colleague of 17 years Nicholas (Nick) Monaco, and mentors including Platte City High School Band Director Ralph Shipley and English Teacher Mrs. Billie Tatman; Dean Wayne La Salle Townsend of Washington University Law School; Big Band Director Charlie Armstead Wells; his predecessor to the trial bench Judge Gerald Cross; Judge Paul Barrett, Commissioner on the Missouri Supreme Court; pioneers in Juvenile Justice and Reform Judge John (Spec) Yeaman and Judge Kenneth Elliott; and "to being at the right place at the right time" and to "patience, patience, patience." It gave him great pleasure to have been a mentor himself to young attorneys including those who served as his law clerks with whom he maintained contact in the following years. Professionally he endeavored to uphold his oath of office to improve the administration of justice. In particular he sought to improve the system for abused, neglected and delinquent children. He secured organization of the Missouri Supreme Court Task Force on Permanency Planning for Abused and Neglected Children and adoption of a Supreme Court Rule establishing standards for operation of Juvenile detention facilities. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Prevent Child Abuse Missouri, and was awarded the Ann Dandurant Award by Prevent Child Abuse Missouri in 1990. He was a member of the Advisory Board to the Missouri Division of Youth Services, and in October 2009, he was honored to be the guest of the Youth of the Northwest Region of the Missouri Division of Youth Services where he was recognized for "exemplary service to the Advisory Board." Throughout his life, he pursued his passion for music and the arts sparked as a youth in Platte City, and considered playing clarinet at age 11 with the Platte City Marching Band in the inaugural parade of Governor Guy B. Park of Platte City in 1933 as one of his most memorable moments. He earned his way through college as a member of Charlie Armstead's Orchestra and its successors, and was a frequent clarinet soloist with the Central Concert Band. He was a charter member of the Capitol City Council on the Arts, the Jefferson City Little Theater and the Cantorum choral group. He appeared on stage in a number of productions and was first clarinetist in the Jefferson City Symphony for several years. He was a member of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Platte City and Jefferson City where he sang in the choir for a number of years, and most recently in Kansas City at Country Club Christian Church where he continued to enjoy singing the hymns with gusto. He was recognized as the Missouri Child Care Association Child Advocate of the year for 1987. In September 1991, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges honored him for "outstanding leadership in the implementation of Permanency Planning for abused and neglected children throughout the nation." He was the first recipient of the Andrew Jackson Higgins Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice established in 1992 by the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association. In 1996, he received a President's award for service as Chairman of the Bar's Commission on Children and the Law, and was also accorded the title of Senior Counselor. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Missouri CASA in 1997, and the Gene Schwilck Award from Citizens for Missouri's Children in 1998. He was a member of the Academy of Missouri Squires and of the Missouri, Cole County and American Bar Associations, the American Judicature Society and the Missouri Institute for Justice. At the 1990 annual meeting of the Missouri Bar he received the Bar's Spurgeon Smithson Award for "extraordinary service toward the increase and diffusion of justice in our society and for dedication to the purposes of the legal profession," and at the Missouri Bar Meeting in 2001, the American Judicature Society presented him with its Special Merit Citation in recognition of services in promoting the Effective Administration of Justice. In 2010, he was a recipient of the St. Louis Bar Foundation's Spirit of Justice Award. Survivors include two daughters and their husbands, Susan and Alan Garner and Laura and Jeff Tyler; three grandchildren, Andrew Garner, and Laura Louise and Jackson Tyler, all of Kansas City, and a sister, Virginia Craig of Oklahoma City. He was predeceased by three brothers, David B. Higgins, James M. Higgins and Theodore W. Higgins. The family will receive friends at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, in the Sanctuary of Country Club Christian Church, 6101 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri. Services will follow at 1 p.m. at the church. Reverend Charles Murphy Jr. will officiate. A burial service will follow at 3 p.m. at the Platte City Cemetery. The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the First Christian Church of Jefferson City or Country Club Christian Church in Kansas City, Central Methodist University or the Missouri Supreme Court Historical Society. Fond memories and condolences for the family may be left at www.dwnewcomers.com (Arr: D.W. Newcomer's Sons Stine & McClure Chapel, 3235 Gillham Plaza, KC, MO 64109, 816-931-7777).