Dad on phone
Fred Buttler Higbie
  • 93 years old
  • Date of birth: Dec 28, 1921
  • Place of birth:
    Grosse Point, Michigan, United States
  • Date of passing: Jun 5, 2015
  • Place of passing:
    La Quinta, California, United States
"I hope like me, you never grow up and you never grow old!" -Fred Higbie, November 2015

Fred Higbie was an amazing man, husband, father, grandfather and friend. He we loving, kind, fun and smart as a whip! He never let age be a factor, he was young at heart and an active stockbroker and golfer up untli the end.  Fred, 93, was born on December 28, 1921 and passed away on June 5, 2015. We will remember him forever. Please share your stories and pictures with us so we might really celebrate this FABULOUS man!!!!

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Michael Gennet on 5th June 2016

"We cherish the memories of our dear friend, Fred, who made people laugh, sing and enjoy life fully through his shining example. We miss him and honor his memory on this anniversary of his passing."

This tribute was added by Harry Higbie on 30th December 2015

"Fred, we have always been great friends.  I still miss you so much. You were a second father to me."

This tribute was added by Patrick Wilkinson Sha Sha Higby on 29th December 2015

"I miss his calls on every Holiday and childlike joy of the Holidays. I felt paired with him on his endless curiousity about everything. Today his 94th birthday, I lit a candle in front of his photo. I love you so much Dad"

This tribute was added by Michael Gennet on 28th December 2015

"Fred was always the life of the party, whether telling stories of his Michigan youth and his days in San Francisco or accompanying me on the piano at the book club's Christmas Party.  His smile and upbeat attitude, regardless of his age, are missed by his many friends. Happy New Year Fred, wherever you are tinkling the ivories."

This tribute was added by Patrick Wilkinson Sha Sha Higby on 21st June 2015

"Gift to Dad on Fathers Day

Now almost an orphan.... I think
How can this happy man cause such sadness?
Chasing through my body
Layers of time rip through  
Down into my bones
Like a cake of memories
Opening and shredding
Parts of him tearing and floating off in pieces
.... So he can be free
And we be whole again.

The physicality of it denies me
Tears Emerge like tinted nodules nut like in my breast
Memories of moments of him built in textured layers
Throughout my body

Dragged out for display in this half light of evening
Maybe he was the first person I saw.... or maybe he and
My mother both gazed upon me in my first breath.

I did not recognize it at first.
He let you do whatever you wanted
Yes you are My Father
And my body is made of you
And how you did hold me when we hugged
(Dodging those wet kisses)

Despite all I forgive
You did not know yourself.
We are all trapped inside ourselves
Finding our way out.

I pray to all the fathers and daughters
Endlessly recurring through time




His daughter Sandra ( Sha Sha ©2015)"

This tribute was added by Patrick Wilkinson Sha Sha Higby on 15th June 2015

"In Lieu of flowers
please leave a a donation to the
Virginia Waring International Piano Competition
73-710 Fred Waring Drive, #201
Palm Desert, CA 92260
(760) 773-2575
(IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ASK FOR ANN GREER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR)"

This tribute was added by Kimberly Baker on 12th June 2015

"I never knew Fred personally, but do know his oldest Daughter
Sandra, I call her Sha Sha,  she is my Step Sister.   I am sorry for your loss. But  reading about  him I can see how much he was loved."

This tribute was added by Rosemary Sullivan on 11th June 2015

"Dear Carol

This is truly the end of an era with Freds passsing. He certainly lived a full life!  You were there to share it with him so you will have many good memories.  You have my deepest sympathy."

This tribute was added by jennie fitzgerald on 11th June 2015

"I've been reading all these lovely tributes to Fred & I must say that as I read, I hear things over & again about this wonderful man--his attributes--to be specific--that I recognize so clearly in my friend & neighbor Tara--Fred's daughter.
Vince, Joey & I have all had the great honor of spending (not enough) time with this dear man, who so generously shared all his wonderful attributes; his character, his love of life, family & friends & his indomitable spirit with his amazing daughter & her darling girls!!
He lives on in you friends! The Fitzgeralds will always remember Fred fondly!"

This tribute was added by sharon hughes on 9th June 2015

"Dear Carol,
What a beautiful Memorial to your Darling Fred.  I so enjoyed reading all the wonderful stories and viewing the priceless photos.  My husband Dick always asks about Fred and he also sends his love.

We look forward to seeing you soon and celebrating Fred over lunch or Dinner.
Cheers my dear friend......."

This tribute was added by Tanya Burak on 9th June 2015

"Carol ...
My thoughts are with you, your daughter and her family.
I now wish the times I had run into you and Fred we had taken the time to enjoy a conversation. It sounds like I really missed out  on knowing a very special man. And Tara's feelings so express the blessing of having a very special father daughter relationship."

This tribute was added by Patrick Wilkinson Sha Sha Higby on 9th June 2015

"from his first daughter, Sandra (nicknamed Sha Sha )

As I float through the vast clouds today on this airplane I remember times with my Dad, if now his presence is floating in an out of the different shades of blue and white. I see him as an angel in a book I remember as a child “the littlest angel “on a cloud jumping from one cotton cloud to the other dissolving into the vastness above us and around.... bringing us closer.

Frederic Butler Higbie a veteran of the navy during World War 2, broker for Merrill Circle (the top 75), White Weld, & Company, Wachovia, primarily skilled with investments in oil, an avid piano player of popular music during gatherings. He was partly self made as in those days you didnt  a need fancy education to succeed. His drive and what he loved to do made him.

He  also loved attention, Birthdays, Holidays, family gatherings, and the market, sports, and all kinds of information. He was warm and enduringly expansive and I always got a call every holiday and recently every chance we got. My only sadness was I was going to call him the day I got to Quebec for a performance job but I had no reception and he had his stroke, that evening.

Through my 60 or so years of having my Dad from the time I was born in Michigan in 1952 to his move to San Francisco in 1958, through to the divorce of my mum then Julie Higbie, I was shared time between my mum and my Dad between Chicago and SF. I always used to love visiting my Dad when I was 6-10 years old, as I would be able to get away with anything, which usually meant hours in the playroom upstairs building mazes and fantasy worlds with peek boxes and cut outs, making paper birds, and pasting flower stickers on all the walls. I loved drawing birds and cutting them out. My Mum tried to limit the number of birds made by only allowing 100 marked with brads. But my Dad would let me fill up trunks of them without counting. My mum tried to control my obsessions, but My Dad didn't seem to notice or worry, he seemed to have remembered his train set that he spread throughout the house (refer to “track” story).

When I was 6 years old, My Dad just let me do anything I wanted and happy I could keep my self-occupied. We were both just “one more thing” type people. It wasn’t until I picked all the pansies and flowers in his backyard and was selling them on the street in front of his house, THAT he really noticed. That was one of the few times I remember as a child I saw him mad. He never got mad, only just huffs …a Very stable man.

  I never played golf but he always told me fondly that when he took me out on a golf cart as a child, I asked him where the birdie was and will it sing, couldn't it fly? ­­­­­­­­­

Then through the 1960s throughout his marriage to Helen Bashford Kennett, which happened after his mothers passing Yaddie in 1956, (a lady of Louisville, Kentucky) and his father, He lived in a big 30-room house on Broadway in San Francisco with a bohemian folk singer. She provided my Dad an interesting interlude up with a mountain cabin near the Dardanelles on HI way 4? It had 20 beds under the stars. She collected obsidian rocks. Even my step dad, Jim, came to help build a water tank as he had helped Bash on a folk singing TV show for children. She shared my Dads love of music and we would sit around campfires.  They went to Cabo san Lucas and he luxuriated at the Palmira Hotel while we went down to Baja in a jeep went there was still just a dirt road near Bahia de Las mujeres near an island of Tiburon, then a beautiful unspoilt place with a few brightly painted cement cube buildings on the beach with just sand and a sunset and piñatas. My Dad also flew up there with the plane, what a lovely life he had.

I used to love those drives to the mountains in the gold country, and we would go to Chinese restaurants and eat chop suey in Auburn. And he had a boat called the “Bull Market” boat where we went with his friend Bill Jansen. He had an airplane with his brother and we would go up to the delta and spend nights on the slough and visit people and they would have drinks in Lodi on the Delta Sloughs. While kids fished off the piers.

I have many stories of Dad’s preoccupations of brilliance or demise, which I too share. He did funny things always unawares.  For example, my mum told me he went to a costume ball and wore a baby bonnet as his costume, or he went on a trip and he packed his ski pants by mistake to go with his tuxedo. Another story was when he was in the mountains in this cabin; he always took a nap at 6 before dinner. ...The place was dark with a hug wooden dinning room table with a bed and lofts above. He laid down to rest and went to sleep. The guests for the dinner arrived and took of their coats in the evening light laying them one by one onto the bed. When it was time to have dinner and play the piano, everyone said “where’s Fred, where’s Fred". He emerged out of the dark mound of coats.  There was Fred!

Everyone drank so much in those days and there was a barbecue always around 9 pm and all the children had to wait. Sometimes there was left over sweet breads (brains) and vodka for breakfast. But I was his little girl and always occupied myself making stuff, writing stories, and building little sail boats to float on mountain streams. I loved a car trip we took together to the mountains. He was always so late departing everywhere. We went to the ghost town in Nevada at dusk, but he was always endlessly curious of all the details to go everywhere and turn everywhere. Recently I was able to talk to my dad over the phone about these years and we recollected together this other slice of his life.

Then he married Brenda and produced his lovely daughter Tara, 18 years younger. I was off in the world abroad living in Indonesia & and Japan for 6 years and not home much. So my sister had to be an only child as well and I could never fill that gap she needed. So in a way we both ended up being consecutively an only child.

By the way there was always the stereo, and the latest thing and complex wiring of speakers and “don't talk to him till he figures it out,” syndrome. As I grew older I realized I shared this part of his wiring up electricity for my art. He loved to wire speakers up in every room and then turn on the stereo first thing in the morning with the jungle parrot calls full blast of the movie West Side Story.

He had always been late but maybe because his mother was neurotically on time arriving way before the party waiting outside and looking at her clock and walking in on the exact moment. But he was saved by Carol who gave him structure in life and gave him much joy with all those things he loved to do. And I ended up appreciating my Dad more after he had found his match. My side of the family had always been more subdued, and introverted possibly snobby. The then overly loud character of my Dad seemed to transform into a vivaciousious, warmth, taking life never submerged in any depression or details. If you find your best match you reflect in a balanced way in the world. And He always chose first class people.

After my Mum grew ill 10 years ago, I discovered things we both had in common: Plugging in electronics, lighting and electricity, self centered or preoccupied, or fixated on finding something or putting something together. From now on my Dad will come back to me when I do these things .I will love him.

Filling every minute full, I am sure he could have filled another set of lifetimes with his interests. He was so informed about everything, endlessly curious and flexible without an attitude, having a great sense of humor in the darkest of times. When we were traveling, he let the original plan dissolve, exploring this site, and that hotel, and where does that road go? Flirting with the environment, he wanted to know more all the time. Life gave him more than double time to enjoy it all.

He accepted everyone for what they were, and that is what his clients and friend loved him for. Having an open young mind, often walking naively into situations like a child. This is why I thought he might survive the stroke, thinking he had a very special brain, but he made it farther out than all his brothers and sisters, Bud, Larry, and Sis. His eyes were open on this extraordinary world for 93 years, the miracle of life.

Last week when Tara and my family got together for lunch at the beach, he scrambled on the phone that he was so jealous and wished he could be there. Thank you Tara for giving your children a strong chance to know him.

Yesterday Albert (my husband and I went to this beautiful monastery of Saint Sebastian a peninsula over a river and the monks just happened to be chanting the early evening sermon. I prayed to Dad en wrapping his form in protection spiraling to the sky.

(From his older daughter Sha Sha (known to him as Sandra)"

This tribute was added by Betty Harris on 9th June 2015

"Carol,
Fred will truly be missed by everyone who had the good fortune to know him.  "A Very Special Man!""

This tribute was added by Gillian Jones on 9th June 2015

"Carol,

Big hugs to you as you say goodbye to Fred. Our hearts and prayers are with you and your family .

With Love,

Gillian, Jason, May and Alyson Jones"

This tribute was added by Carol Nolte on 8th June 2015

"Ron and i were so lucky to have Fred and Carol as our neighbors in the desert for many years.  Both Fred and Carol are the classiest people I have ever met.  They always attract the most interesting friends.  Our world will not be the same without Fred.  We will miss hearing his piano music and chats in the evening over cocktails. Our prayers are now for Carol as she travels the road ahead without her best friend by her side.  But we know he will always be with us in spirit."

This tribute was added by natasha miklaucic on 8th June 2015

"I'm so sorry for your loss, Tara. I know he'll be missed by all of you."

This tribute was added by Tara Verner on 7th June 2015

"Such a smart fun to be with full of life and love of a man! Here's to Fred - a real inspirational person that I was fortunate enough to enjoy and meet on 2 occasions.. Lots of love.. (written by Katy Straser)"

This tribute was added by Philip Branson on 7th June 2015

"Fred lit up any room he entered...he enjoyed life and love and let us all know about it....and we loved Fred right back..open, honest, never shy. However, frequently after a meeting of the Desert Bible Fellowship Fred would have a few highly cogent and insightful comments, always expressed quietly in a small group. He had wonderful spirit and will be missed. I look forward to learning more of Fred's spiritual insights at a later date."

This tribute was added by Tara Verner on 7th June 2015

"We are so very sad on learning of Fred's death.  He was such a lovely man and watching the Carol and Fred together set a perfect example of true love.  Our deepest sympathies go out to you and to other family members.  The pictures of you and Fred with Tara and her family have been delightful and fun to see.  Hold fast to your memories (from Sally Penner)"

This tribute was added by Tara Verner on 7th June 2015

"I've met lots of great people who have inspired me, made me laugh, and could hit a golf ball straighter than me- but papa Fred did all of them AND improved the quality of my internet speed, at 92! Honored to have known such a great man who really knew how to live life to the fullest (note from Kim Adas)"

This tribute was added by Harry Higbie on 7th June 2015

"Fred has been a second father to me.  Every day with Fred, whether in Grosse Pointe, San Francisco, Palm Springs, or on the golf course was a day of fun and camaraderie.  I will always love and cherish our times together.  Fred lives on, because we as humans are an aggregate of all those who have had an impact upon our lives, and he lives large in this way."

This tribute was added by Katy Lenihan on 7th June 2015

"We loved it when Fred came to visit Tara at SMU - he was a charming, warm and debonaire man. He would always take a group of Tara's friends out for a lovely dinner - it was like going to dinner with Cary Grant. Tara you had a wonderful and loving Dad.  He will be sorely missed. Love you!"

This tribute was added by John Higbie on 6th June 2015

"I never saw Fred say an angry word about anybody or any thing. Even when things were going badly, his bright disposition and sense of humor never failed. This font of joy attracted people to him like moths to a lamp. Young and old alike will miss him."

This tribute was added by Catriona Verner on 6th June 2015

"I only had the pleasure of meeting Fred a few times, but I found his jovial spirit so infectious.  He was just always fun to be around."

This tribute was added by CM Higbie on 6th June 2015

"Fred was one of those exceedingly rare people who could light up a room and bring a smile to every face just by walking in.  A great gift."

This tribute was added by Jane Verner on 5th June 2015

"Fred was a remarkable man, with the talent of making everyone feel special. He was multitalented - including piano player, host, golfer, pilot, father, grandfather, father-in-law, stockbroker, husband, friend, and excellent bar tender! Remarkably at 93, he was up early keeping abreast of the stock market, and then entertaining us after dinner with his piano playing.

Terry and he enjoyed each other's company, perhaps because, like him, Terry has tried hard to never grow up. He lived life to the full and had a lot of fun.

He always showed the great happiness he found with Carol, and the pride he felt in his two wonderful children, Sha Sha and Tara.

We will always be appreciative of the kindness he extended to us, and are very sorry he is gone and we will not see him again.

Jane Verner and Terry Shepard"

This tribute was added by cynthia jenkins on 5th June 2015

"Tara, I never once saw your dad without a smile on his face. He was a gentle man and gentleman. Hands clasped for you and yours today and always. I feel so lucky to have known him, as well the legacy he leaves behind."


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Tara Verner

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