Jean D. Whitney Higgins, 92
HARRISON and SO. PARIS — Jean Denison Whitney Higgins, 92, of Harrison and South Paris died Sept. 17, 2016. at The Barron Center in Portland, after a long and valiant struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Jean was born March 16, 1924, in Norway, the daughter of Laurence H. Denison and Mary Helen Jordan Denison. She attended Harrison Grammar School, Bridgton Academy and Westbrook College. She was a store manager and model for Porteous, Mitchell and Braun in Portland and, during the war, worked at the Colt Factory in Hartford, Conn. She married Freeman Whitney on Sept. 2, 1947. After living in Bangor, Augusta and Ithaca, N.Y., they settled back in Harrison, where they raised their family of five children.
Jean put her education and retail experience to good use, first by selling used clothing out of their house on Winslow Street, and later opening and managing The Red Rooster in downtown Harrison, where she sold antiques and handcrafted items from around the area. Jean was a census taker in 1970, worked for the Bonus Blanket Club in Harrison, and for the Cooperative Extension Service in Norway as a nutritional advisor. She assisted with the setup and management of The Maine Cottage gift shop in Norway and South Paris. She then went to work for Oxford County Community Services where she worked until she retired as the office manager for both the CETA and JTPA adult programs.
During most of her retirement she kept her hand in the antique business by keeping a resale booth in several of the area flea markets. She loved going to estate auctions and frequented innumerable local antique shops. She also wrote sections of the new Bicentennial History of Harrison, focusing on the World War II years. Jean was the librarian for the Caswell Public Library in Harrison for several years and a founding member of the Harrison Historical Society.
Jean dreamed of a trip to Paris and, by saving her pennies, made it happen not just once, but three times. She also traveled extensively in Great Britain, and toured Italy and Germany with her sister Mary. She was a voracious reader and always solved the Sunday New York Times Crossword Puzzle with an ink pen.
Jean got reacquainted with an old childhood friend at the age of 68, and she and Richard Higgins were married in the winter of 1992. For their honeymoon they drove to Alaska in his pickup truck, camping along the way. Jean and Dick lived in Norway and South Paris during the 16 years they had together, going to antique shows and hosting their passel of kids and grandkids in their home on Hill Street in South Paris. Dick passed away in 2008.
Jean is survived by her five children: Anne Whitney (David Webster), Elizabeth Whitney Gallagher (Tom), Jonathan Whitney (Allison Hatfield), Andrew Whitney (Ratna Manullang), and Jane Whitney Riseman (Walter). She is affectionately known as “Darba” by her 16 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Carolyn Johnson Lord of Bow, N.H.
The family would like to especially thank the staff at the Barron Center’s dementia unit for the extraordinary care and comfort they provided Jean during her last months.
There will be a private family graveside service and a public celebration of Jean’s life at a date to be determined.
If so inclined, please make donations in Jean’s name to the Harrison Village Library or the Harrison Historical Society.