Obituary: Mary Butler Higgins
Mary Butler Higgins, 84, passed away peacefully surrounded by family members on March 1. She was a resident of Delray Beach, Fla. Mary was a frequent visitor to Vail and was one of the first visitors to ski the new resort with her husband, Minnesota state Sen. Raymond Higgins, in 1962.
Contacted by Vail architect Fitzhugh Scott as potential buyers of Vail real estate, Ray and Mary were on their way to Snowbird, Utah, when they decided to check out the new Vail Resort. Unforgettably, the first season Vail Mountain opened, it was raining. When Mary unloaded from the chairlift, most of her corduroy Bogner jacket had frozen and detached onto the chair, certainly discouraging any investment in Vail.
Despite that rainy first season, the Higgins returned to Vail and brought their five children and many friends to ski in Vail over the years. Her love of Vail was contagious and was one of the reasons her son, Tom, decided to move to Vail and start a ski shop, American Ski Exchange, in 1986.
In later years, Mary enjoyed traveling to Vail in the summer to visit her son Tom and daughter-in-law Jackie and their four children. She was a well-known personality and was eager to share her knowledge of Vail and her children with those whom she met. Although Mary was most proud of her roles as a wife, mother and grandmother, she also enjoyed keeping up with business ventures, traveling the world, volunteering for Hospice By the Sea in Boca Raton, and attending St. Vincent’s Ferrer Catholic Church in Delray. Throughout her life, she put others first and lived with a positive attitude even when overcoming breast cancer.
She was born in St. Paul, Minn., to Robert and Margret Butler. Her father served as ambassador to Cuba and Australia during the Truman administration. She graduated from Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Mass., and attended Mills College in San Francisco.
Mary is survived by her five children and their spouses: Raymond Higgins, of Daniels, W.Va., Elizabeth and Roy Little, of Tiburon, Calif., Andrea and Alexander Bierce, of Charlotte, N.C., Tom and Jackie Higgins, of Vail, Wendy and Don Chambers, of Princeton, N.J., and 12 grandchildren: Chris and Andrew Little, Laura Little Morris; Cameron, Jennifer and Alex Bierce; Torrie Higgins; Blake, Hillary, Jackson and Raymie Higgins; Katie Hayes; and four great-grandchildren.
Services for Mary will be held in Duluth, Minn., on March 10 at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Holy Rosary School, Development Office, 2802 East Fourth St., Duluth, MN 55812.