Chris Higgins, A Student Whose 'Generosity Was Legendary,' Dies at 23
Published: Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Updated: Sunday, June 17, 2012 04:06
To some, Christopher Higgins (COL '09) was "the mayor," a man who connected with just about everyone and who could captivate any audience. To others, he was the funniest guy in the room, someone with a sharp wit and an unending repertoire of practical jokes. And to all who knew him, he was generous, warm-hearted and loyal.
Higgins died suddenly at age 23 on Saturday, May 24, at Georgetown University Hospital. He was laid to rest in George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus, N.J., following a service at St. Gabriel the Archangel Roman Catholic Church on May 28, which was celebrated by former Georgetown president Fr. Leo J. O'Donovan, S.J. Well over 1,000 people attended the wake and funeral, friends said.
Family members and friends said Chris suffered from aortic stenosis, a heart condition which obstructs the flow of blood through the aortic valve, but had not recently shown any signs of illness.
"He was not sick - he was healthy and happy," said Erin Davies (COL '99), Chris's older sister. "We are still coming to terms with the reality that faces us."
Rick Calle (COL '08), who met Chris in their freshman year of high school at Bergen Catholic and called himself Chris's best friend, was similarly shocked.
"It was sudden and unexpected," he said.
Higgins, followed four years as the co-captain of Bergen Catholic's football team, where he was named to New Jersey's all-Catholic roster, with a position as linebacker on the Georgetown football team from 2004-2006. A broken arm in 2006, however, ended his pigskin career.
In addition to football, the Ho Ho Kus, N.J. native was passionate about music. An avid guitar player, he had also shown an interest in pursuing a career in the music business. One friend, Matt Shotwell said that he, his younger brother, Mike (COL '08), and Chris enjoyed rap music and freestyling with each other. Chris attended the Scratch DJ Academy in New York last year to polish his skills and prepare for a possible career in the industry.
This summer, Higgins had planned to pursue a finance internship, following a stint at an investment bank, Jefferies, last summer.
Chris hailed from a true Georgetown family. His father, James F. Higgins, graduated from Georgetown in 1970 and sits on the university's board of directors. He was part of the two-man search committee that brought John Thompson III to Georgetown in 2004. And, of course, Davies attended Georgetown as well. Chris, originally a member of the class of 2008, had just taken off the spring semester and was slated for one more year on the Hilltop to complete his degree in government. He planned to graduate with his cousin, Aly Carluccio (COL '09), next spring.
`He did it his own way'
Scott Kahoe (MSB '08) met Chris Higgins in the unlikeliest of ways. It was freshman year and Scott was a lacrosse player, Chris a football player - the two squads did not always mix. A friend of Scott's from lacrosse and a buddy of Chris's from football were mired in a disagreement. They met to discuss the situation, but before they parted ways, Chris asked Scott what his plans were for the next day.
"We got dinner and we became friends," Kahoe said. "We became extremely tight.
Once Chris's football career was halted, he would meet Kahoe after lacrosse practice and the two would grab a bite to eat or hang out at their apartment.
"That's the kind of person he was," Kahoe said. "He was always someone you could count on to be there when you needed someone."
Indeed, it is that warmth and genuineness that made the greatest impression on those close to Chris.
Wherever Chris went, remembers Liam Rogers, a long-time friend, people would come up to him, one after another, "to say hello to him and hear what he had to say, or what story he had for them this time."
Brian Finnegan, one of Chris's college roommates, said he made many friends thanks to Chris's outgoing nature. "He had a captivating personality that appealed to everyone," Finnegan said. "I was always amazed at the number of people that knew and admired Chris."
According to Davies, one of her brother's greatest strengths was his simple but profound ability to make people happy. "We were always waiting for him to come into a room," she said, "because once he arrived, you knew you were in for a great time, lots of laughs, and what would become a lasting memory."
"Chris Higgins walked in a room? You sure as hell knew it," said Taylor Price (MSB '09). "Nobody worked a room like Chris Higgins. He'd be in there, he'd be throwing not handshakes, hugs. Hugs and chest bumps."
Price said he and Chris shared a special connection. After a diving accident in July 2004, Price became a C5-C6 quadriplegic. He said that Chris, because of his heart condition, "knew what it was like to deal with a `situation.'"
"I think he understood what that was like," Price said. "We both just had this mutual understanding of trying to live life to the fullest every day."