In Memory of
Michael Wayne Higgins
October 15, 1955 - March 2, 2015
Michael Wayne "Mike" Higgins, age 59, was delivered into the arms of our Heavenly Father on Monday, March 2, 2015. He passed away at home, surrounded by the love of his friends and family, after a valiant battle with cancer.
Born October 15th, 1955 at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas to Dixie and Owen Higgins, Mike grew up in Sherman, Texas having graduated from Sherman High in the spring of 1974. In the summer of 1976, on August 14th, Mike married the love of his life, his high school sweetheart Peggy Hurley Higgins. Together they would raise three children; Katherine, Stephen, and Hilary in Austin, Texas. Mike served his community as both a firefighter and a paramedic on the ambulance for 37 years beginning in 1978.
Known as a joker around the fire station, Mike soon earned the nickname "Daffy" by pulling pranks and making mischief with his friends in the fire department. Mike will be especially remembered for his quick wit, sense of humor and ability to fill the lives of those around him with laughter. Following several years of involvement with the legislative process, Mike developed a keen interest in politics. While with the Sherman Fire Department he was elected Local President. He has been active in several aspects of Texas politics for over 30 years, including volunteer work in various election campaigns at the state and federal levels, to his present work as a lobbyist. In 1988, Mike began working with the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters. This involved the negotiation of labor contracts and as an advocate for fire fighters at arbitration in addition to his work as a registered lobbyist at the Texas Capitol.
Higgins' prior work include numerous categories of Texas government, including occupational regulation, family law, bingo, appropriations, counties, municipalities, special purpose districts, elections, health and health care, labor, pensions, state agencies, boards and commissions, transportation, and others.
During his career Mike was instrumental in drafting legislation, which improved fire fighters protective clothing, pay, benefits and retirement. Mike helped to draft and pass key legislation regarding MDA fundraising that allowed fire fighters to "Fill the Boot".
He is survived by his beloved wife of 38 years, Peggy; his daughter, Katherine Higgins Pratt (and her husband, Heath Pratt of Round Rock); his son, Steven Higgins; his daughter, Hilary Higgins; his grandson Micah Pratt (of Round Rock); his brother, Marc Higgins and family (of Little Rock, Arkansas); his sister, Judy Kropf and family (of Lake View, Iowa); and many close friends. Mike was a member of Hope Presbyterian Church where his memorial service will take place.
A memorial service will be held at ten o'clock in the morning on Saturday, March 14, 2015 at Hope Presbyterian Church, 11512 Olson Dr, Austin, TX 78750.
Many thanks to the staff and volunteers at Gentiva Hospice for their help and support.
Condolences may be left for the family at cookwaldenfuneralhome.com
This is brief synopsis on the history of the Sean McKinnis Charitable Solicitation Law that will be the jewel in Mike's crown. In 2002 and 2003 a number of Texas Locals were facing solicitation ordinances that were preventing their Fire Fighters from collecting for MDA on the streets in the nationwide tradition of "Fill the Boot". The largest of these was Dallas and other cities were starting to follow suit. Many people were confident Fire Fighters were not the problem and knew that by passing the law it would still drastically affect their efforts on behalf of MDA. The MDA staff met with Mike at the TSAFF Convention in Corpus Christi in 2003 and discussed this growing problem which would be devastating to MDA's patient care and research programs in Texas. Mike felt that a law could be passed and he knew the legislators that could do it. The next state legislature would not be meeting until the early spring of 2005 so during the interim Mike met with representatives from both sides of the aisle in both Texas state houses. When Bill 245 was introduced by MDA good friend and supporter former Houston Fire Fighter L341 member State Senator Mario Gallegos, Mike helped guide us through the committee process. In the midst of their efforts on behalf of the bill, the son of Odessa Fire Fighter and L1665 member David McKinnis and wife Julie succumbed to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Sean and his family had been a mainstay at the TSAFF conventions for many years. Mike wanted to honor Sean's legacy and all he did as an MDA Goodwill Ambassador and asked the family if when the law was passed, it be named the Sean McKinnis Charitable Solicitation Law. They agreed and were honored that Sean's name would forever be associated with this important act. When the vote came up it was passed unanimously by the Texas House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Rick Perry. As similar ordinance challenges developed across the country, through conference calls, emails and valuable input, Mike was instrumental in helping to pass similar laws in California, Illinois, Florida and other states with language very similar if not verbatim to the Texas Law. Through Mike's efforts this great American tradition is protected. Through his expertise, cajoling, persuasion and tenacity, Mike has probably played a greater role nationally in protecting this program than anyone else. Every time MDA would thank him for his help he would always say "It's for the kids, it's for the kids". This is and will always be his legacy.