The man behind the legend
We’re sad to note this week the passing of one of our favorite people, retired pharmacist Jerry Higgins, a sometimes iconoclastic, always intellectual mainstay of the community.
Writers often think of particular audiences when they commit pen to paper, sometimes making references they know only a few will appreciate. Jerry was one of the few for this writer. What else would you expect from someone who composed his own obituary and could easily spend an hour arguing the merits of pronouncing a certain type of cheese as “GOW-do” instead of “GOO-da”?
Some of our earliest memories are from Sunday mornings, when he personally kept his pharmacy open — not so much to fill prescriptions as to keep up on the latest from those leaving — or avoiding — church.
While some from an older generation would stumble in and order a Bromo after having lingered a bit too long at the country club the night before, others from my much younger generation would marvel at the various squirts of flavor he could add to soft drinks from the pharmacy’s fully equipped soda fountain with marble counter and stools.
Jerry was also the touchstone we thought of when we put little notes in the paper about cultural events in nearby towns. He was sure to be one of the few who would travel to a lecture on Native American lore or join a backpack trip through nature or history.
In 1960, when the city was celebrating its centennial, it was Jerry who came up with the idea for the town’s Best Place I’ve Seen logo, which graced billboards, letterheads, and city vehicles for almost half a century afterward.
He wasn’t here when surveyors accompanying a Zebulon Pike expedition first labeled the town’s location with that phrase, but he certainly was among the reasons why it retained that honor a century or more later.
And, oh, by the way, Jerry: It can also be pronounced “HOW-da.” Somehow, we think he’d appreciate the one-upsmanship.
— ERIC MEYER