1929 - 2020
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October 23, 1929 July 29, 2020
DONALD LEE HIGGINBOTHAM, 90, died on July 29, 2020, at the Circle of Life Hospice in Bentonville, Arkansas, with his wife and children beside him. Don fought a long battle with COPD, which ultimately caused his death.
He lived with his wife, Jo, in Bella Vista, AR, and also nearby were his two daughters, Nelly and Mary, and granddaughter, Anastasia.
Don was born in Tulsa, OK, on October 23, 1929, to the late Daniel Klieber Higginbotham and the late Anne Louise (Dittmar) Higginbotham. He was also proceeded in death by his two older sisters, Jean Moore and Anne Grimes. Don has two nieces, Laura Ward, California, the late Maureen Moore, and a nephew, Steve Ward, Brazil.
Don graduated from Tulsa Central High School (1947), then received his BA degree in Architectural Engineering from Oklahoma State University in 1952. With the help of the GI Bill, he graduated from Princeton University with a Masters in Architectural Design (1958). Don was the only member of his birth family with a college education. Black Thursday, one day after Don was born, began the Great Depression which made such advantages like college more difficult for many. Don strove to get ahead from these hardscrabble times to achieve goals only he could imagine.
His full-time summer jobs in high school and college, included traveling from Tulsa to Colorado to work first at a resort in Grand Lake and then later driving big tour cars to the top of Pikes Peak. It was during these summers that he fell in love with the beautiful Colorado mountains, determined to someday live and work near them. That dream lead him to Colorado Springs in 1958, where he then lived for 58 years and practiced architecture for 37 years.
He was a principal partner with the architectural firm Higginbotham, Nakata and Muir, from 1962-1972, followed by president of his own firm, Higginbotham and Associates (1972 - 1991), then Higginbotham, Briggs, and Associates (from 1991 until his retirement in 1995). HB&A is still an active firm in Colorado Springs today, lead by Aaron Briggs.
As an architect/planner, Don was registered to practice in CO, OK, WY, and NM. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In 1970, he was a visiting lecturer in the Dept. of Architecture at U. Colorado, Boulder, and in 1974 a lecturer at Colorado College.
Don was responsible for 75 architectural projects and 60 military and civic community master plans, which exemplified his unwavering and determined work ethic to do every job just right. He was listed as a notable architect/master planner by Marquis Who's Who.
He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (1972-1974) and a member of the Chancellor's Advisory Committee at U. Colorado - Colorado Springs (1983-1984).
Don was also a long-time member of the First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, the Men's Christian Bible Study, El Paso Club, Broadmoor Country Club, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.
He served in the United States Air Force from 1953-1955, receiving the rank of First Lieutenant.
Don enjoyed tennis, handball, and squash. He once beat in straight sets the best tennis player at OSU, receiving many kudos from his fraternity brothers! He loved his dog, Moshe, classical music, biographies, great movies, photography, writing poetry, family trips to the mountains, and being with his friends, many of whom he kept up with until a few weeks before he died. He had such a unique sense of humor and was aptly nicknamed "Father Fun" by his family.
His deepest love was for his family. He met his wife Josephine (Hackett), in 1957, in the Tulsa Rose Garden. So young and happy, they fell in love instantly among the many roses. They were married in Tulsa on September 6, 1958, by Dr. Edmund F. Miller, minister of First Presbyterian Church, who had known them both since their youth (though Don and Jo did not realize that, due to their six years difference in age). As Don had so wanted, they moved immediately to Colorado Springs, where they raised their three children, Nelly Kathryn, Matthew Lee, and Mary Jennifer; grandchildren are Hanna Mae Bradbury (Fernando Pereira Gomes), Teo Lee Bradbury, and Anastasia Josephine Higginbotham.
Since their first meeting in the Rose Garden, 63 years ago, they both discovered that the beautiful rose does have it's hidden thorns. Don and Jo spent some years apart, remarrying each other twice. Their close bond, however frayed at times, never broke. Their friendship and love endured as testament to a much Higher Power than they.
For those friends and acquaintances of Don, who wish to honor his memory by donating to a charity, we suggest The Mesa House, c/o Rev. Steve Handen, 420 Mesa Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80905. Don admired Steve so much for the work he does to help those less fortunate in life. On behalf of Don, his family thanks you.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Gazette on Sep. 6, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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2 entries
September 14, 2020
I met Don Higginbotham in 1976 when invited over for a sleep over and delicious dinner. I was sixteen and a junior at Fountain Valley School. Far from home and a bit wayward I met Don's daughter NELLY (day student) and we became fast friends. Both Jo and Don welcomed me into their home with such kindness, generosity and LOVE. I always say they adopted me.

I have recently realized that Don as architect and both Jo and Don's love of the arts made a giant impact on me. They also had original works of art from local artists throughout their home. Their contemporary spaces filled with photography, painting, sculpture warmed my visual memory. Don was a wonderful conversationalist and never hesitated to talk with us on a myriad of topics late into the night.
Jo and Don hosted our wedding reception with dinner and square dance in 1984 and met our huge family and dear friends. Everyone felt a part of the Higginbotham family. How fortunate are we ? Ever so grateful. Don came to Santa fe in his last years and we had a precious birthday gathering together. His brilliance was ever so clear and also the deep love and gratitude for his family.
He will be deeply missed and we send mega hugs to all in this time of great loss.
mary olson
September 6, 2020
Don Higginbotham was an amazing father, always there for me, for all his children. I'm happy I was close to him in his final years in Bella Vista, AR. His mind remained sharp as a tack and our conversations were always thought provoking. He offered me such unconditional love, always... I deeply miss him. He filled a big space in my life. Thanks, dad, for you! You were a great man! Nelly
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