THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Tales from the old-timer
Issue Date: November 7, 2012
Conversation At Higley Field
An elderly man and his grandson, about 13, are sitting in the bleachers at Higley Field, having come to a football game early to be sure of good seats.
Grandpa: Well, Johnny, the Wausau team is out there warming up, and our Marinette Marines will take the field soon, too.
Johnny: Grampa, why do they call this Higley Field? Was he some famous guy or something?
Grandpa: Ill tell you, my boy, and its a surprise for me to understand you never heard of H.V. Higley. Everybody called him Doc. Yes he was a famous man, and I dont think many towns the size of Marinette can boast of a man like he was. What he had was leadership ability that fit him so naturally that he wound up in charge of just about anything that came along. He was a tall man. Handsome. The women looked his way. He had confidence. Great intelligence. But he didnt steamroller over people. People looked to him for the best kind of performance in everything he did, and he always came through. He was always a gentleman, and a sharp dresser.
He was into everything. He headed up Ansul, where he started when they had only five employees. He was a bank director, a school board member, chairman of the hospital board, a spark plug in all kinds of civic activities and charities.
Higley was head of the US Veterans Administration in Washington for several years, an agency with 175,000 employees. President Dwight Eisenhower picked him for that job in 1953, and administering that huge agency came easy for him. He looked out for the veterans. Everybody liked this genial administrator who got things done, who had the broad vision needed in that big job.
He originated the idea of having Veterans Day instead of the old Armistice Day.
He was State American Legion Commander.
He was a 1st Lieutenant in World War I.
Doc Higley started his professional career after he graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1915 with a degree in chemistry. That led after the war to his job at Ansul, where he pioneered new directions for the company in producing fire extinguishers and the chemicals that make them work.
He had an easy, natural way about his leadership talent. People just looked up to him, expecting him to lead the way.
Johnny: I guess he really was a famous guy, Grampa. Too bad he is getting to be sort of forgotten around here.
Grandpa: Yes, and thats not good. I knew him well, Johnny. He was probably Marinettes greatest citizen of all time. And now were getting ready for the kickoff!