Vale Bill Higgins

Bill Higgins…what you saw was what you got

Federation Life Member Bill Higgins died on February 22 aged 85.

Bill had two stints working in the education sector, separated by 10 years in the private sector.

His involvement with Federation centred on his service in country areas and as an education officer in the gaol system.

Working at Bathurst Gaol he found himself caught up in the 1974 riots. Former fellow Organiser Dick Frost recalls Bill said he never feared injury because the inmates looked after the people who educated them.

Bill became a Country Organiser assisting members in the Riverina in 1981 and held the position until he took early voluntary retirement in 1987.

Former President of Wagga Wagga Teachers Association Geoff Amos said Bill was a "larger than life character".

“What you saw was what you got. He was passionate in all his undertakings, always ready to assist teachers and schools and to be readily accessible to the teaching service. He was very much a man of his word and regarded no task as being too difficult to undertake. This applied not only to his involvement with the NSW Teachers Federation but also to his life away from teaching,” Mr Amos said.

Ron Frew was Tumbarumba TA President when Bill was a Country Organiser. “Bill was a cracker gentleman. You could always count on him,” Mr Frew said.

Sheila Watson worked in Federation’s Riverina office with Bill as Country Organiser.

“Bill was one of the nicest, most genuine and sincere people I have ever had the pleasure to work with in Federation and it was therefore easy to remain friends with Bill after his retirement. While an Organiser, Bill didn’t tolerate the internal factional politics of Federation well — probably because he couldn’t see any benefit for the members,” Ms Watson said.

“During his time there were no mobile phones, no emails, not even a fax machine or photocopier — just a car and the open road. He travelled for days on end covering the Riverina with a toothbrush in his shirt pocket and a roll of toilet paper in the boot of his car. I also must mention the cigarette burns everywhere — in the office, in the car and all over his clothes.”