Obituary: James D. Higgins Aug. 7, 1935 – May 25, 2023

 JAMES D. HIGGINS Aug. 7, 1935 – May 25, 2023

James D. Higgins, (Jim) also known to many as “Coach” is once again dancing with the love of his life, Elizabeth, on the beautiful streets of Heaven. 

He is rejoicing and wrapping his arms around his beautiful daughter Claire. Coach left this life for his eternal life in the early morning hours of May 25, 2023, with his family by his side.  

Coach was born August 7, 1935, in Dallas Texas to Winnie Higgins.  As a youngster, he lived in many different cities, finally settling in Hobbs, NM where he graduated from Hobbs High School and met his soul mate. 

After his high school graduation, Coach Higgins attended Eastern New Mexico University majoring in Education. Before graduating college, he was recruited for spring training for the Montreal Expos Baseball Farm Club. Deciding he did not want to pursue a career in major league baseball, he returned to New Mexico, married his sweetheart and graduated from ENMU.  

Once graduated, he and Elizabeth moved to Los Alamos where they both began their teaching careers.  He taught and coached in Los Alamos for 21 years. During that time, he taught Junior High and High School Industrial Arts and History. In addition to teaching, he coached baseball, basketball and golf.  

While living in Los Alamos, he played fastpitch softball for the world class 5 man softball team, The Perotti’s Clowns, entertaining many people and helping raise money for charity.  

After leaving Los Alamos, Coach moved his family to Carlsbad to continue teaching and coaching at CHS for 11 years. At CHS he taught industrial arts and coached basketball, golf and helped with track. During his lifetime coaching career his teams won several state championships in basketball, baseball and golf.  He was named National Golf Coach of the Year and was also a finalist for National Golf Coach of the Year. He was inducted into the New Mexico Softball Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Los Alamos Hall of Fame in 2018. 

Jim married Elizabeth in 1956 and enjoyed a long, beautiful marriage until Elizabeth’s death in 2021. Jim and Elizabeth had three children, Nancy, Claire and Blaine. After retirement, he loved spending time with his family, traveling around the state to watch his granddaughters compete in tennis tournaments as well as camping and fishing at Bonita Lake with his grandson.

Coach was predeceased by his wife, his daughter Claire, his parents, his siblings, and many wonderful dogs. He is survived by his daughter Nancy Phipps (Shane) of Carlsbad, granddaughter Katie Bilberry of Artesia, granddaughter Megan Valdez (Antonio) of Albuquerque, grandson Ross Jacob Harmeson of Carlsbad. He is also survived by his 4 great grandchildren, Jase and Gage Bilberry and Anastasia and Griffin Valdez. He is also survived by his estranged son, Blaine.

Services will be held Tuesday, May 30, 2023. Visitation will be held at Denton Funeral Home 12 – 2 p.m. and a graveside service will be at Carlsbad Cemetery at 3 p.m.

The Family of Coach Higgins would like to especially thank the staff from Encompass Hospice for all the loving care that they provided. We would also like to thank his daily caregiver, Jeanette Wallace. Without these wonderful people in our lives, we would not have been able to make it day by day.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to New Mexico Wildlife Center, 19 Wheat St. Española, NM 87532.

‘Coach’ James D. and wife Elizabeth Higgins. Courtesy/Denton-Wood Funeral Home

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