By Tara HiggIns
Port Jefferson Village Justice
Patricia Maureen Higgins (maiden name Phillips), was born on May 6, 1931, in Jersey City, New Jersey, the first-born child to Brigid Dunne and John Francis Phillips. She was followed by her two brothers, Jack and Bob. Pat was the salutatorian of her eighth-grade class, second only to her life-long closest friend, Aunt Gebs.
When she was 15, Pat met Joe Higgins on a bus on the way to a dance at the Polish Hall. Five years later they were married at St. Anne’s Church. Deeply devoted to their faith, they welcomed eight children into the world. They were an inseparable union for 70 years, navigating the highs and lows and challenges that life brings.
Joe worked long hours while mom worked equally hard at home, raising eight kids, the oldest in college, the baby in diapers, and every age and stage in between.
The family moved to Long Island 55 years ago. Pat insisted that they move back to New Jersey the next year, but that never happened. She would joke that she lived on Long Island for 20 years before she realized that she was on the wrong side of Route 25A. She wasn’t concerned with those sorts of pretentious things; she was a much earthier woman. She took her role as homemaker seriously — the glue that held the family together. She was organized, efficient and diligent in her duties. She had a loving and unique relationship with each of her children and grandchildren.
Pat was an insightful woman who could assess a person’s character within minutes of meeting them. She had a kind, caring demeanor that made people divulge their problems and secrets. She was an avid reader — she read the newspaper cover to cover — and enjoyed suspense novels.
And this lady, who never left the house without her hair perfectly coiffed and her lipstick on, enjoyed her children’s sports, and was never absent from a football game, track meet, swim meet or baseball game.
This feminine lady understood stats and splits, knew a bad baton handoff from a good one, and comprehended the seemingly endless set of rules and exceptions to rules in the game of football.
She enjoyed the Jets since the days of Joe Namath and the Yankees, and of course, her beloved Derek Jeter. Pat also had a penchant for war movies, cowboy movies and disco music. It wasn’t unusual to get in the car after Pat had been driving it and hear ABBA or Donna Summer blaring on the radio.
Her house was always filled with the aroma of her delicious food. There was no takeout; Pat cooked every night and could give Julia Child a few suggestions on how to make gravy. Birthday cakes were homemade from scratch with Presto flour, never a box mix, that’s just not how it was done. If you missed dinner, your dinner was left on the counter in a pie plate with a piece of tinfoil on it and your name written in perfect Catholic school penmanship.
The only time the house didn’t smell of Pat’s delicious cooking was when she was doing a load of white wash, in which case the smell of Clorox would simultaneously burn your eyes and nose.
Pat and Joe were devout in their faith and active members of this parish since its inception. Now, she will be reunited with those that have left this earth before her including her parents, friends, her first son Paul, who only lived 36 hours, and of course, her dear son Bob, who was taken from this world far too early.
Pat was the beloved mother of Nancy Sardinia and her husband Ted, Patricia Paddock and her husband Ken, Tara Higgins and her husband Peter Petracca, Kathleen Higgins and her husband Joseph Farley, Joseph and his wife Marybeth, John, Paul and his wife Kate, and the late Robert and his wife Ellen; cherished grandmother of Joseph and his wife Tara, Katherine, Matthew, Marty, Marybeth, P.J., Sean, Bobby, Brigid and her husband John, Siobhan, Fiona, Julia, Colette, Aeva; and great grandmother of Liam, Emerson, and Riley; and devoted sister of Jack Phillips and his wife Sheila and Bob Phillips and the late Barbara.
Funeral mass and burial were on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at St. James R.C. Church in Setauket where she is now North of Route 25A.
Donations can be made to Hope House Ministries and Three Village Meals on Wheels.
Editors note: The March 3 issue of the Port Times Record published the wrong name in this obituary. This is the correct version.