John E. “Jack” Higginbothan passed away suddenly on Jan. 30, 2018.
At the time, Jack was retired and living in Harbor where he enjoyed a blissful life with his loving partner Judy Hirst. Together they savored daily beachcombing walks, time spent together in their beautiful garden, selling their hand-made treasures at the local farmer’s market and visiting with friends.
Born on the Island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, on Jan. 16, 1950, Jack was a 13th-generation islander and lived there until he was 4 years old, at which time the family moved to New Bedford. When he was 12, they moved back to Nantucket and Jack attended Nantucket High School where he ran track.
Always a hard worker, as a youngster Jack had a paper route and carried bags for visitors at the airport. During his high school years, he worked at the Jared Coffin House in the kitchen.
Jack was a spiritual seeker from an early age, and he also had a passion for music. Born with the soul of a poet, it was a magical moment when he received his first guitar in 1965. He began writing “songs for spirit,” spreading his message of peace and love wherever he went.
At 17, he left Nantucket with his guitar and hitchhiked across the country, meeting people and writing and playing music along the way. When he came back to the island, Jack continued writing songs and playing in local establishments while spending summers living in a tent in the midst of a blackberry patch on his family’s property.
Like his father, Jack was an avid baker. He worked at the Nantucket Bake Shop with Joe Cecot for many years, and for the Downeyflake and Something Natural where he made delicious Portuguese bread. He also worked in many of the restaurants and played music at night for places such as the Brotherhood of Thieves, Gordon Folger and the Sailoft.
During the summer of 1978, Jack met Cindy Anzalone who was visiting the island with some girlfriends and they fell in love. In 1980 they were married and raised three wonderful children in Euclid, Ohio. Jack worked at Lopresti and Sons in Cleveland for 29 years until the business closed.
Unable to find work, he soon moved to Florida with a buddy. There, through a stroke of serendipity, he came into contact with one of his oldest friends who was about to move to Oregon and needed some help. Jack drove to Oregon with his friend Suzan and later, when describing his arrival in Williams, he said that he felt that in this community of kindred spirits, he had found his tribe.
Here Jack enjoyed one of his most prolific times of song writing. He brought his baking talents to the Outatheway Café in Williams and played his music at the Cocina 7.
In 2017, as prices in Williams rose and real estate became scarce, he and Judy found a home on the coast in Harbor. They moved in the spring when the gardens were in bloom and the sunshine and beaches welcomed them. Jack was so happy to be living back near the ocean again, and he described his time with his beloved Judy as living a Zen existence.
Friends and family will miss Jack’s wry sense of humor and gentle, soft spoken way. His friends always knew that he’d have a bowl to smoke, a joke to tell or a song to sing. After Jack’s death, a friend said “if when you leave someone says ‘I want to treat people like he did,’ you just might have done something right.”
Jack is survived by his life partner Judy Hirst; his son Ryan Higginbothan of Willoughby, Ohio, and daughter and son-in-law Hannah and Albert Pucciani of Cleveland, Ohio; his former wife Cindy Higginbothan of Willoughby, Massachusetts; stepfather John Becker of Nantucket; sister and brother-in-law Frances Ann and Robert Winters of Douglas, Massachusetts; sister Kathryn Becker and brother-in-law Walter Welton of Ashby, Massachusetts and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
He was predeceased by his father John E. Higginbothan, step-mother Barbara M. Higginbothan; his mother Frances Ann Becker and son Daniel J. Higginbothan.
A celebration of Jack’s life is being planned for September on Nantucket.
In lieu of flowers, Jack’s family asks that donations in his memory be made to: Jack Higginbothan Memorial Scholarship for Aspiring Songwriters, P.O. Box 475, Ashby, MA 01431.