HUNTSVILLE - It was with sadness and relief I read about the passing of June Higgs.
Cancer as all of us know, touches so many in our community and it has only been recently that cancer patients can spend their final days in a fine setting such as Hospice Huntsville. June Higgs is the second longtime Huntsville Forester employee to have recently succumbed to cancer, the other being dear friend Gillian Brunette.
June Higgs was a mainstay at the Huntsville Forester; she managed the retail office supply store and later the overall office administration. I really don’t know the length of her tenure at the Forester but I am pretty sure it was between 30-40 years. During my 12-year tenure as a weekly columnist at the Huntsville Forester, June Higgs held the dubious distinction of being the subject of my very first column.
But I, along with many knew June Higgs for being a very important part of the community. The first thing that comes to mind is cancer, the disease that took June from our community. For as long as I can remember June Higgs was a tireless fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.
Joined by many others like her, June raised money the hard way, by door-to-door campaigning. I couldn’t hazard a guess to the total amount of money raised over decades that way, but if we were able to total it, I am sure it would be staggering.
How fortunate that Hospice came into being in the past year so that those like June Higgs and her family and friends could share her final days together. How appropriate, especially for June as she had certainly earned the right to spend her final days in such a manner.
But cancer fundraising wasn’t the only contribution June Higgs made to our community. For many young hockey, lacrosse and baseball players June Higgs was the Huntsville Royal Canadian Legion. Whether it was behind the snack bar operated by the Legion Ladies Auxiliary at the old Huntsville Memorial Community Centre, or at one of many sports banquets, community dinners or weddings held at the Legion, June was always visible and joined by many others such as Elva Stinson, Jenny Kelly, Mrs. Krapik, and of course Ethel Payne.
Speaking to Roy Macgregor about the loss of June Higgs, Roy and I discovered that we shared a common bond, one that I am sure we share with many in Huntsville; we both were once ‘Legion Ladies’ as we played hockey, lacrosse or baseball as youngsters.
It was through the fundraising efforts of June and her comrades that so many of us were able to wear a Legion sweater and play our games.
One of my favourite and strongest memories of June Higgs is the vision of her marching down the main street of Huntsville with her comrades of the Royal Canadian Legion in the annual November 11th Remembrance Day parade. The pride in her step, the swing of her arm, the angle of her beret, is forever imprinted in my memory.
There were many other roles that June Higgs took on in our community, The Huntsville Agricultural Society and its annual Fall Fair; playing mother hen to the many young Huntsville then Oshawa Green Gaels lacrosse players; and of course being a fulltime mother and wife.
The community of Huntsville’s foundation has been laid and built by many, many citizens, each being a brick well placed. But some amongst us serve the role of a corner stone; June Higgs was such a community corner stone.
Thank you June.
You will be missed.