Dec 232016

Norm Higgins (left) John Donnelly (right) celebrating Norm being awarded the “Distinguished Citizen Medal” from the Marine Corps League on behalf of the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Dear Editor:

Mere words are unable to describe the brilliance, magnitude and unyielding compassion possessed within the personhood of Norman Higgins.

His uncompromising love and ability to forgive, under all circumstances, were qualities he was never without. Mr. Higgins is a far better man than I.

To a certain extent we were cut from the same cloth. Born and raised in big cities, he from Chicago, myself from New York City; we both enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served combat tours in Vietnam.

Forty years ago I came to the Keys to rebuild a broken life. Norm Higgins met me here and showed me how it was done. His undying friendship provided me with guidance and support until I could get back on my feet. Norm taught me about “spiritual principles”, as he modeled and provided an example of what goes into living a “Life of Honor”.

The energy and action he exuded in meeting the unending cries for assistance from his fellow citizens, were unparalleled to anything I’ve ever witnessed. Always, his efforts on behalf of another were done with a joyous and jubilant heart. Such selflessness and sacrifice for the sake of others, was standard operating procedure for this Man.

In the 70’s when Veterans were not highly thought of, Norm Higgins was the only person who would stand with me at the flag pole in front of our high school, when we instituted a Memorial Day program for our students, staff and community. Mr. Higgins’ courage, poise and grace were the reasons this program took off, becoming the standard for others to follow.

A few hours after Norm’s remains were removed from his home, I circled the street where his house is, over and over again, weeping and sobbing, for it hurt so bad to be alive without him.

I don’t know what I’m going to do without my Friend, Brother and Teacher. So many of us will miss him and never get over his passing. Norm Higgins was just that type of Man.

Always Faithful in my Love,
John Donnelly

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John Donnelly
John Donnelly, a resident of Key Largo was born, raised and went to high school in the South Bronx. Upon graduation he was awarded several scholarships to college. He chose to enlist in the United Sates Marine Corps. While serving in Vietnam John was wounded in action. He received two meritorious promotions, one during combat. Upon discharge and return to America, John had a difficult time transitioning back into civilian life. He found himself homeless for the next 4 years. As he worked out some troublesome concerns, he began to yearn to make some sense of his experiences via education. He sought and received his GI Bill benefits. He later graduated frpm the University of Miami on the President’s Honor Roll. While working at a Maximum Security Prison Facility for criminally insane adolescents, he earned a Master of Science degree from Florida International University.
More Articles by John Donnelly prior to November, 2014.
 December 23, 2016  Posted by at 12:49 am Issue #198, Letter to the Editor  Add comments

  2 Responses to “Norm Higgins Remembered”

  1. Beautiful letter. Thanks for writing it.

    Norm could drive me crazy sometimes. But his heart was always in the right place. He always told me I work too hard and I should go home and enjoy my beautiful family. He was right! Then he’d say “we’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time”.

    Sad that he’s gone, but the memories will always make me smile.

  2. Dear Margie,

    Thank you so much for the comforting words and sentiments.

    Love and Blessings…


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