Melva Joan Higgins was born in Shell Lake on November 14, 1950, to Melvin and Opal (Pickett) Higgins. She died suddenly at her home in Eau Claire on June 15, 2020.
Mel grew up on her parent’s farm in Rusk Township, Burnett County. She attended grade school at Green Grove Elementary and graduated from Spooner High School in 1969 as the class salutatorian.
She attended the University of Wisconsin in Rice Lake from 1969 to 1971 and went on to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where she majored in biology and mathematics, graduating cum laude with her Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973. She returned to UWEC to earn her Bachelor of Nursing Degree, graduating summa cum laude in 1978.
Mel worked a variety of medical and surgical, medical telemetry, and critical-care jobs until 1986 when she moved to Mayo/Midelfort Clinic, Allergy and Asthma Clinic. It was there that she took her heart, compassion, and sense of humor, eventually becoming the RN supervisor, AE - C until retirement in 2016.
Throughout her life, Mel developed an affinity for genealogy. She was fascinated by the characters that made up her family line and the stories she found in her research. To her joy, she most recently traced her European heritage to the mid-1600s.
She was always very excited when she found a picture. “Mel always had a camera in her hand at gatherings because it was important to document our reality, not just for us, but for other generations,” the family said.
Mel had a lifelong love of music. As a small child, Mel and her sister Dee were taught by their mother, Opal, to sing in three-part harmony. Mel was always singing, especially when that song supported her dry humor. In 2005, she began to write country music songs. In 2010, Mel was thrilled to become a published songwriter. Most recently, she was teaching herself to play the hammered dulcimer so she could continue to play music with arthritic hands.
Mel loved in big ways. She enjoyed traveling to see the people she loved, wherever in the world they may be. She wrote her Christmas cards in October so they could be addressed by the first week of November and ready to be mailed the day after Thanksgiving, so people knew she was thinking about them. She listened without judgement, loved without conditions, encouraged others generously, and lived fully. She remembered every birthday and had an infamous pun for every occasion. She snorted when she laughed and then laughed because she snorted. Repeatedly. Sometimes until it hurt.
She is survived by a nephew, Michael Amans of Birchwood; a niece, Sandra (Jason) Miller of Omaha, Nebraska; great-nephews, Darrell Amans, Charles Miller, and William Miller; stepbrothers, Dan Curdy of New Salem, Massachusetts, and Brian (Maryvonne) Curdy of Uvrier, Switzerland; and many special cousins, amazing friends, and fellow country music enthusiasts at Country Jam.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Melvin Higgins and Opal Curdy; stepfather, Vinet Curdy; and a sister, Delores Cartwright.
Visitation will be held on Saturday, July 11, from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Stokes, Prock & Mundt Funeral Chapel, 535 S. Hillcrest Parkway, Altoona, with a celebration of life immediately following with Pastor Frank Knoop presiding.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be donated to a charity of one’s choice in Mel’s name; or Mel would be honored to have random acts of kindness done in her memory.
Stokes Prock & Mundt will handle the arrangements. Due to social distancing guidelines, a maximum of 100 people can be in attendance at a time. Online condolences may be shared at www.cremationsociety-wi.com.