Weekly Feature

2006-03-29 / Obituaries

Marion Bigelow Higgins, Amherst native was 112

Marion Bigelow Higgins, 112, an Amherst native who was the oldest person living in California, died Thursday, March 2, 2006.

Her book, "Ripples on a Quiet Stream," sold more than 800 copies. It chronicled her early life in Maine, Ohio and Michigan in addition to New York State.

The family homestead, the "Bigelow Saltbox House" now stands on the grounds of the Amherst Museum.

The house, in a style more commonly found in New England, was probably built in 1840 by Henry Bigelow, according to the museum's records. It stood on the Bigelow's' Ransom Creek farm and may have been occupied by the farm manager and his family during the mid-19th century.

It is believed that Henry Bigelow built the left side of the house in the 1840s and added the right side in the 1850s. He died in 1857 and his wife deeded the house to their son, Harry Foster Bigelow, in 1859. Harry sold the property to John Blocher in 1890. The building was moved to Amherst Museum in 1975.

Because a "salt-box" shaped house was very popular in colonial New England and Bigelow was from Brandon, Vt., he most likely built the kind of structure that he knew from his childhood.

Mrs. Higgins graduated from high school in Idaho and earned a bachelor's degree and teaching certification from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash.

Her first teaching job was in a one-room schoolhouse in Cascade, Idaho. She worked on B-17 bombers at an assembly plant in Pomona, Calif. during World War II and retired from the Los Angeles County assessor's office in 1963.

At age 88, she participated in the 1918 Senior Olympics and won three gold medals. She also sang with a choral group for 15 years.

Surviving are two sons, Horace and Bob; seven grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren, and 15 great-great-grandchildren.

Interment was in Pomona.

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