Fourth-generation islander Jean Marie Landahl Higginson died peacefully at her adult family home in Ferndale, Washington on January 4, 2023. She was 89.
Jean Marie was born on August 29, 1933 to Frank and Sylvia Landahl. She and her younger brother William grew up on the family farm on San Juan Island that was homesteaded in 1872 by her great-grandparents Christopher Rosler, an American soldier in the Pig War, and his wife Anna Pike, a Tsimshian Indian. Jean Marie had many stories of farm chores, including getting up to milk the cows at 5 am and to separate the cream, as the family sold cream to The Creamery in Friday Harbor. She became an accomplished baton twirler and graduated from Friday Harbor High School in 1950 at age 16, the class valedictorian. Jean Marie wanted to join the Air Force but not being 21, needed her parents’ consent which they would not give as they felt it was too dangerous. Instead, she attended Western Washington University and obtained her Bachelors in Education, graduating in 1953 at age 19.
Jean Marie married William Hollis Higginson (who was from a Lopez Island pioneer family, the Nichols) in 1959. They had four children, Carla Jean Higginson, who now lives on the family homestead and has practiced as an attorney in Friday Harbor since 1980; Jaya Marie Sigo, who married Suquamish Tribal member Dave Sigo and had one child Christie Marie Higginson (who had one child Ryan Joel Sigo); Lesli Marie Higginson, who married Bernard Fernandez and had one child Andrew Hollis Higginson; and Lisa Rae McEntire, who married Mike McEntire and had one child Aaron Jacob McEntire.
Jean Marie became a very successful elementary school teacher. She taught for a year in 1961 on Stuart Island where she had eight students, including her two daughters Carla and Jaya. Jean Marie stopped teaching after her husband’s death in 1975 and then held a variety of jobs, including working in the office of a Dutch Harbor, Alaska hotel in her 60s. She later moved back to Friday Harbor and worked for a local hotel and then for her daughter Carla’s law firm until her retirement.
Jean Marie loved animals of all kinds and was a devoted dachshund owner for many years. She enjoyed observing nature and felt that the San Juan Islands were the most beautiful place on earth. She was an avid reader until she began to suffer from dementia in her early 80s. Jean Marie was strong, independent and caring and instilled these qualities in her four daughters.
Jean Marie was preceded in death by her parents Frank Landahl and Sylvia Landahl Rogers, her husband William Higginson, her brother William Landahl, and her granddaughter Christie Higginson. 48 hours later, her daughter Lesli joined her in death.
Jean Marie’s remains will be interred in Valley Cemetery where her ancestors are laid to rest. At her request, there will be no memorial service. Remembrances may be made to San Juan Historical Society in Friday Harbor.