Obituary: James G. Higgins, 76, a lifelong resident of Shelton

James G. Higgins, a lifelong resident of Shelton, Connecticut, died on Monday, December 2, 2013 of complications from the cancer he fought courageously for seven years. He was 76 years old.

James Higgins was an educator at Middle Brook Junior High School and Madison Middle School for 37 years. He served as Chair of the English Department for 14 years.

A gifted teacher profoundly dedicated to his profession, Mr. Higgins inspired his students to set and attain high personal standards, lead examined and ethical lives, and become lifelong learners and engaged citizens. His seminal influence on the intellectual and moral development of generations of middle school students is beyond calculation. Beloved by his students, he kept up with a great many over decades.

Born in Bridgeport, James Higgins graduated from Notre Dame High School in West Haven in 1955. He received a B.S.S. in Education in 1962 from Fairfield University and later a Master’s degree from the same institution.

In every sphere of his life, Mr. Higgins served the Shelton community. Among the multitude of Town committees of which he was a member were: the Board of Education, the Shelton High School Building Committee, and the Charter Revision Committee on which he served as Secretary. He was a Griffin Hospital Corporator for 49 years and was a past member of the Steering Committee of the Shelton Democratic Town Committee.

His volunteerism spanned many areas, but Mr. Higgins found greatest satisfaction and felt greatest pride in being a volunteer fireman. One of the most meaningful parts of his life was the commitment to the public good and deep sense of camaraderie he found among fellow fire fighters, his “band of brothers.” He served with the Shelton Volunteer Fire Company No. 4 for 52 years.

He was Captain, a Charter Member of the Shelton Board of Fire Commissioners, and a Charter Member of the Shelton Officer’s Council. For 49 years he served on the Fairfield Country Fire Chiefs’ Emergency Planning Group, and was a Trustee at the time of his death.  He was also a member of the Connecticut Firemen’s Historical Society.

Mr. Higgins was the son of the late James G. Higgins, Sr. and is survived by his mother, Rose Picone Higgins. He is also survived by his beloved wife Jane Banas Higgins, devoted children, Katherine Higgins Denecke (Mark) and James G. Higgins, III (Heather), and the grandchildren he adored: Charles George Denecke, Mary Elizabeth Denecke, Robert James Higgins and Adelaide Higgins. Surviving family also includes his sister, Judith Higgins Travers (Wayne), his mother-in-law, Mary Banas, his brothers-in-law Robert Banas (Teri), George Banas (Elaine) and David Banas (Tina), and many nieces and nephews.

The death of James G. Higgins is a great loss not only to his family but also to his many friends.

The family would like to thank the caregivers at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven for the compassionate care they provided to James.

Funeral services will take place on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. directly in St. Lawrence Church, 505 Shelton Rd., Shelton for a Mass of Christian Burial. Interment will follow in Nichols Village Cemetery, Trumbull.  Friends may call on Thursday from 4-8 p.m. at the Abriola Parkview Funeral Home, 419 White Plains Road, Trumbull.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Smilow Cancer Hospital, P. O. Box 7611, New Haven, CT 06519-0611 or

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