Paul Emmet Higgins of Silver Spring, MD passed away unexpectedly on August 9, 2023. He was born in Vale Summit, MD to James and Anna Higgins, and was the youngest of four siblings.
Paul spent his early years in western Maryland, attending a one room school in his community, and then attended high school in Frostburg, MD. He was an excellent student, and attended the University of Maryland, College Park (class of 1953). He then moved on to the University of Maryland Dental School, earning his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1957. Paul proudly served in the United States Air Force for two years, serving in Panama while caring for others. He then established his “Mom/Pop” dental practice in downtown Silver Spring, where he would successfully practice for 40 years. He retired in 1999, when he jokingly told his patients, “I can’t solve my Y2K computer problems in time” (never having used a computer in his practice). Paul cared for generations of patients, and entertained them with “the joke of the week”.
He met the love of his life, Ann, when he was set up on a blind date (“Ann, you have to meet my dentist!”). They married in 1961 in Newton, Massachusetts, and then raised their family in Silver Spring. It was a loving home, filled with kids and grandkids, friends, Labrador Retrievers, vegetables that he himself grew, and most of all, laughs! Paul had a razor-sharp sense of humor and could keep you laughing at all times, but countered it with a strong sense of honesty and integrity which were wonderful lessons to his children.
Paul had many hobbies and interests. There is a saying that goes, “You can take the boy out of the country….” This was true of Paul. He was a gardener at heart, and kept a garden up to his last days. He would share his “garden goodies” (peas, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, corn, and cucumbers) with friends and family alike. He also kept cherry trees, which made the best sour cherry preserves and cherry crisp! Paul was a lifelong hunter, and his membership in the Lloyd’s Creek Duck and Goose Club spanned decades. He was still in a goose blind into his late eighties; after which he said, “I’ll hunt in the camphouse stand!”, still immensely enjoying the company of his friends in the club, who lovingly dubbed him “Ten Bears” (a la Dances with Wolves), as a sign of elder respect. An avid reader, he would delve deep into both fiction and nonfiction (history of the Civil War and WWII were particular favorites), especially sitting next to the Sassafras River during summers on the Eastern Shore at Starkey Farms. Paul loved crossword puzzles, often completing several per day, IN INK (a fact of which he would often remind you).
Sports fan? Oh yes! Paul was a fan of both NCAA football and basketball (cheering on the Maryland Terrapins and Notre Dame Fighting Irish – where any use of the “Prevent Defense” would upset him – “It prevents you from winning!”), as well as major league baseball (following the New York Yankees for years).
He is survived and deeply missed by his children, Todd Higgins (Karen), Tim Higgins (Jamie), Tracey Witthaus (Richard) and Tenley Jablinske (Michael), as well as his grandchildren who loved their “Papa”: Brendan (Haley), Trevor, Colin, Paul, Madelyn, Connor, Sierra, Liam, and Eoin. He is also remembered fondly by extended family, friends, and patients who loved and laughed with him through the years.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. Until then, toast him with a Bourbon Old Fashioned or a glass of Pinot Grigio, eat some fresh vegetables, watch a football or baseball game, pull out your favorite John Wayne movie (possibly “The Searchers”), or simply think back on a laugh you shared with him and smile. If desired, contributions in his honor can be made to SmileTrain.org.