CALUMET - Wayne Clare Higgins, 75, of Calumet, passed away on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, at Stonewood, the house he designed and built on the shore of Lake Superior.
His wife, sons and daughters all helped care for him in his final days. He was a talented man of great character, much beloved by his extended family, many friends and business associates.
Wayne was born at home in Shiawassee County, Michigan on Jan. 5, 1937, to Wilson and Sarah (Somers) Higgins. He attended local schools and graduated from Ovid High School in Ovid, Mich., north of Lansing.
He then joined the U.S. Navy and was proud to be voted Honor Man of the Honor Company of his training group at Great Lakes Naval Base in Ill. He was further trained as a Photographer's Mate and also attended the Navy's swim school in Pensacola, Fla. where he was certified as a diver. He was assigned to be a photographer of record on an underwater demolition team stationed at Kwajalein Island in the Pacific.
A talented artist since childhood, Wayne's sales of his oil paintings to the families of naval officers on Kwajalein brought him to the attention of the admiral there, who recommended his reassignment to the Navy's Art and Animation Department in Washington, D.C. where he completed his military service. The assignment gave him the hands-on opportunity to learn a variety of skills and techniques that enabled him to earn a living in the fields of commercial, industrial and fine arts throughout his life.
For the next several decades, Wayne had a diverse and interesting career working in advertising agencies and for a time, on the staff of a large manufacturing company. He designed stage sets for community theaters in Lower Michigan, then later moved to Austin, Texas to design sets for a bilingual children's television show at station KLRN. For his work on that series, Wayne was awarded the Japan Prize for television set design in international competition.
Returning once again to the Midwest in the late 1970s, Wayne worked as a prototype model maker for several Milwaukee companies.
After years of accompanying his wife on visits to her family in Hancock, Wayne could no longer resist the lure of the Keweenaw Peninsula and Lake Superior. He bought property along the lake, brought his model-making business with him and built a cordwood masonry house for his family.
He then began to design Limited Edition figurines which were manufactured in China and sold in gift stores and department stores across the U.S. In his spare time, he produced many fine paintings, carved items and ship models.
When asked which of his various jobs he had most enjoyed, he replied, "All of them, really. I just liked to work, to design things and solve problems in building or making them."
Wayne is survived by his wife of 42 years, Marlys Bacon; his sons, Troy and Greyling Higgins; his daughters, Marena Higgins and Quincy Higgins (Chad) Arney, all of Houghton; and by his granddaughters, Tiffany Higgins of Houston, Tex., Suzette Scott of Houghton, Gibryn, Liv and Shea Arney of Houghton; his grandson, Troy Higgins, Jr. and great-granddaughter, Mya Brady, both of Houston.
Cremation has taken place and a memorial gathering in Wayne's honor is being arranged and will be announced at a later time.
The O'Neill-Dennis Funeral Home in Hancock is assisting with the arrangements. To leave online condolences, please go to oneilldennisfh.com.