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Matthew Peter “Matt” Higgins, 55, a former Baker City resident, died April 26, 2009, after a courageous four- year battle with cancer.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Albany. A recitation of the rosary will be at 10 a.m.
He was born in Baker City on April 9, 1954. He attended St. Francis Academy and Baker High School, Eastern Oregon University at La Grande and then Oregon State University at Corvallis, graduating in 1978 with a degree in forest management.
Upon graduation, he worked for the U.S. Forest Service until January 1979 when he started his 30- year career with Georgia-Pacific, which eventually merged into Plum Creek Timber. He began his career at Georgia-Pacific as a geneticist at the Cottage Grove nursery where he helped establish the tree improvement and seed orchard program.
His most recent position was silviculture manager for Oregon Operations at Toledo. He and his family lived at Cottage Grove and Creswell before moving to Corvallis 13 years ago. He was an active member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Corvallis.
His love of the land was evident in the more than 30 years that he worked in the wood products industry. Matt was involved in numerous committees which include the Oregon Forest Industry Council, past president of West Oregon Forest Protection Association, past chairman of Concerned Landowners of Lincoln County and the Nursery Tech, Genetics, Swiss Needle Cast, Stand Management and Vegetation Management cooperatives.
He was a long-standing member of the Society of American Foresters. He developed and ran the partnership between SOLV and Plum Creek Timber for garbage cleanup on the Siletz River. He helped the Baber Mountain ATV Club develop a network of trails on private timberlands near Toledo.
As was typical for Matt, this win-win partnership enabled the ATV users to enjoy Oregon’s Forests while protecting property and respecting property rights.
Matt was excited about life and lived every day to the fullest, his family said. He was compassionate and touched the lives of everyone with his kind and gentle nature. He had a unique ability to connect with people and had a positive impact on those around him.
In the last few years, he faced many trials due to his illness. He met those trials with grace and fortitude and relied on the strength of his faith as well as the love of his family and friends.
He was thankful for the many wonderful people he met on his journey. Matt loved OSU athletics, the outdoors, and spending time with his family and friends. He was planning to walk the American Cancer Relay for Life on May 15 with his team “Marching for Matt.”
He was preceded in death by his father, Dr. John Higgins, and his nephew, Tyler.
Survivors include his wife of almost 27 years, Nancy; sons, Michael and Kyle; his mother, Esther Higgins; sisters, Mary, Patty, Catherine and Frances; brothers, John, Tim and Tom; brothers-in-law, Vincent, Milt, Glen and Bob; sisters-in-law, Bobbi, Deb, Paula, Ann and Julie; and numerous nieces and nephews; great-nieces and great-nephews, and his mother-in-law and father in-law, Hollis and Anna Bolton.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the OSU Foundation Matt Higgins Fellowship Fund, 850 S.W. 35th St., Corvallis, OR 97333.
AAsum-Dufour Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, April 29, 2009
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor