Sgt. Bill Higgs is described by his sons as a man made of “American steel,” living an extraordinary life filled with humble service, unflinching dedication and a selfless desire to serve others. He served in World War II, raised a family and worked as an LAPD officer and detective for nearly two decades.
The world recognizes people like Higgs as the generation of ordinary men called on to do extraordinary things, but you will rarely catch one of them boasting or even readily sharing the things they had done, according to Tim Higgs, Bill’s younger son.
But, as a small tribute to their father in his final days, they helped publish an article in The Signal that pieced together first-hand accounts of Bill Higgs “the compassionate father,” and secondhand accounts of Bill Higgs “the stoic soldier.”
“After it was published, we had people calling us and saying, ‘I had no idea he was even in the service’ … and family members, who had been in the military themselves, saying things like, ‘I wish I could’ve talked about it more with him,’” Doug Higgs said.
The brothers said they had to hold two memorial services, one in Sylmar two weeks ago and another in Santa Clarita on Friday, in order to accommodate all those wishing to their pay respects, according to Doug. There wasn’t a seat left empty at either service.
During the Eternal Valley service, Tim and Doug led a ceremony that mirrored the pragmatic, yet poignant personality of their father. Doug looked over a framed photo of his mom and dad embracing, and made a brief speech.
“Taps” was played by a lone Marine, while two others methodically folded and presented an American flag to Tim. They were followed by two LAPD officers, who presented their own folded flag, but to Doug.
Among those watching the ceremony was George Patton, a Santa Clarita resident who had read Bill’s story and realized not only that it was the same man he had known for decades, but that his son lived less than a mile away from him.
“My brother-in-law was Bill’s partner in the LAPD for 18 years,” said Patton, who said he had privately met with the brothers in order to tell them who their father was to a number of people. “He was a good man. A great man.”
As Higgs’ ashes were entombed beside those of his late-wife, Vivian, Tim noted that his parents’ burial place was in the shadow of an American flag waving over the portion of the cemetery grounds set aside to specifically honor those that have served in the military.
“We didn’t even really think about it, to be honest,” Tim said. “But, even if we had, we know it would’ve been more important to him to be placed next to mom than to be up there. They’re truly back together now in every sense of the word, both in heaven and here on Earth.”