Edith Evelyn (Evie) Higelmire, 93, of Royal, passed away peacefully at her home on Monday, April 17, 2017. She was born on October 13, 1923 in Painesville, Ohio, the daughter of the late Oscar and Lempi Hakala. She was preceded in death by her husband of nearly 60 years, Lathron Howard Higelmire, and by siblings George Hakala, Gene Hakala and Ruth Johnson.
Left to cherish her memory are daughters Dorla Dixon (Tom "Bill") and Amy Huff (Allen); grandson, Tom Dixon (Rose) and great-grandchildren, Kennedy and Elliott Dixon, Serena, AJ, Emmalyn and Breayden Huff; several nieces, a nephew and extended family members.
Evie was never a stranger to anyone. She greeted everyone with a cheerful smile and used her favorite phrase, "I am blessed, and I thank my precious Lord Jesus" every day of her life. She was proud of her Finnish heritage and would sing "Jesus Loves Me" in Finnish to anyone who would listen. Evie had a gift for the theater and participated in several plays in a lead role as a member of the theater group associated with the Hot Springs Fine Arts Studio when it was located on Whittington Avenue. She also enjoyed boating, swimming, water skiing and motorcycling with her husband, Higgie, until his death 12 years ago. Children and reading were important to her so she made her life's career as a Chapter 1 Reading Instructor at Lake Hamilton Primary School. There she instilled in her pupils much more than reading just the words. Active in PTA while her daughters were in school, she served as president and other officer positions throughout the years. She loved her Lutheran Church and participated as a choir member, Lector, Sunday School teacher, and women's leader.
Her grandson, Tom, offered this tribute to his grandmother on the day of her passing that expresses how the family feels about their Mom, Evie.
Edith Evelyn Higelmire. Miss Evelyn. Evie. Grandma Evie. Grandma. My dear, sweet grandmother, after a few months in home hospice, passed away today. She was always there for me, providing encouragement, warm hugs, and a listening ear. She made sure everyone else was always taken care of first, and she always did it out of love. This is best exemplified by her long career as a teacher assistant at Lake Hamilton Elementary. There, she helped young children who struggled with reading by teaching them one-on-one outside the classroom. She treated those kids as her own; she did everything she could for them while they were her students and she made sure to keep up with how they did throughout the rest of their years at Lake Hamilton and beyond.
She was a strong woman, right up until almost the end of her 93 years. She raked all the leaves every fall for as long as I could remember; she took care of my grandfather, Higgie, after his stroke until his death; she insisted that, after two hip replacements, a struggle with osteoporosis, and other leg injuries, that she could get up by herself; throughout everything, her can-do, never-quit attitude was a source of pride for her. She always beamed about having "sisu," the Finnish word for something we can't describe with just one English word—it's a combination of determination, bravery, perseverance, grit, strength, especially against the odds—bluntly, to have guts. It wasn't an act with her, it was a daily reality.
Now that she's gone, the stories she told me repeatedly, especially in her last years, resonate with me even more. Tales of summers spent at her house; of mundane car rides to and from school and trumpet lessons and the county library where I worked before I had a driver's license; of her youth spent growing up living on a
farm during the Great Depression and her appreciation for how good her family had it and how they helped other people; of her dad's bakery and working there as a teen with her sister and two older brothers; of those brothers' World War II experiences in Europe and the Pacific; of her married years in Chagrin Harbor Beach and on big boats on Lake Erie with trips to Cedar Point and Put-in-Bay; of my mom's and aunt's misadventures and life lessons learned—I could go on and on, but all of these things she shared with me provided a strong sense of family and self. I learned from her the importance of caring, compassion, kindness, selflessness, and hard work. I treasure what she gave me and I will miss her deeply.
I love you, Grandma.
We all love you, Evie, and will miss you. But as your favorite poem ends, "[her children] stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: "We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a Living Presence."
The family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff of Kindred Hospice, especially to Evie's nurse, Katie and attendant, Lacie, for all their love, care and support.
A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 13 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 109 Hobson Avenue, Hot Springs, AR 71901, with Pastor Ross Worch officiating.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church Food Pantry.
Cremation arrangements are under the direction of Davis-Smith Funeral Home, Hot Springs.
Guest registry is at www.davis-smith.com.