Obituary: Jacob Kirkpatrick Higgs

Fri, 07/26/2013 - 2:30pm

Jacob Kirkpatrick Higgs, former resident of Sheffield Farm, Block Island, died July 13, 2013 at his home in Thomasville, Georgia. A private interment was held for family and a celebration of his life was held at his home for family and close friends on July 16. Jacob Higgs was the son of James E. Kirkpatrick and Helene H. Kirkpatrick. He was preceded in death by his parents, his son, Jacob Wilson Higgs, and his sister, Sarah K. Kavanaugh. Born in Greenville, N.C., on Nov. 21, 1933, Jake grew up there and attended Greenville schools. In 1953, Jake married his high school sweetheart, Mary Ann Smoot. He served four years in the U.S. Air Force, from 1953 to 1957, including stations in England and North Africa. He graduated from Duke University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Upon graduation, Jake worked for Hazeltine Corp., Long Island, N.Y., for five years. He and his family moved to Concord, N.H., in 1966 where he worked for 35 years as a design engineer at Sprague Electric Company. He became a premier expert in Hall Effect Devices, sharing his expertise on this subject worldwide and earning seven U.S. patents for his work. Jake was an accomplished multi-sport athlete and sports enthusiast. He played football, basketball and golf in high school, scoring his first hole-in-one his senior year. In his early 30s, he started playing tennis so he could teach the game to his children. He went on to earn the N.H. State Doubles Championship title. He cultivated a love of sports and physical wellbeing in all his children. He was blessed by an exquisitely sharp mind and a gentle heart. Never daunted by the uphill climbs, he was always humble and self-effacing about his accomplishments, enjoying challenges and taking them in stride as he did his life. He is survived by his wife of 60 years; three daughters, Elizabeth Newton (Joseph) of Lafayette, Calif., Mary Thomas (known as Kira) Higgs of Portland, Oregon, Laura Furber (Thomas) of Montpelier, Vermont, and a son, John Shaw Higgs of Concord, N.H.; three granddaughters, Stasia and Alyssa Furber and Sasha Newton; and a nephew, Dr. Patrick Kavanaugh (Alison) of Chapel Hill, N.C.. The family expresses profound gratitude to Bethany Hospice in Valdosta, Georgia for its medical professionalism and generosity of spirit in their care for him and the family. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to pancreatic cancer research through the Lustgarten Foundation ( or the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network ( Friends and family are invited to sign the online guest register at