Development & Alumni Relations Office 


 James Frederick (Jim) Higgins, PhD (died 11 September 2020, aged 75)

Obituary provide by Jim’s wife, Kari.


Jim passed away peacefully at home in Ajijic on 11 September 2020, with his wife Kari, son Mark and daughter Claire by his side.  He was born on 6 November 1944, in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK, to father, James Higgins and mother, Elizabeth James.  His father was in the Royal Air Force and the family moved every two to three years to different parts of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.  Jim attended no fewer than 13 schools, many of them in Northern Ireland which he grew to love. He chose Queen’s University in Belfast and graduated with a PhD in Lasers and Optoelectronics in 1970. His PhD work was with what was then the largest laser research group in Europe outside the Soviet Union.  He lived through “the Troubles” in Belfast and had many close friends there.  He enjoyed being a member of the Queen’s University Air Squadron flying De Havillands in the RAF formation flying and aerobatic competitions.  Jim always considered himself as “being from Belfast” because he had lived there longer than anywhere else before finishing university.  He went on to a distinguished career as an entrepreneur and various Executive positions with Electro-Photonics (Belfast), moving to Brussels, Belgium in 1974 to open an office for Laser Optronic GmbH, and later becoming a director of J. K. Lasers (Brussels).  His move to Canada came in 1984 with Lumonics Inc. in Kanata, Ontario, and finally with LightMachinery Inc. in Ottawa before retiring in 2004.


Jim was married for 42 years to the love of his life, Kari, whom he met in Brussels.  They both worked in Belgium for 10 years, where their two children, Claire and Mark, were born.  After their move to Canada, they spent 20 happy years living in Carp, Ontario.  They were proud Canadians, learning how important neighbours were when you lived in the country with power outages, a well, your own septic system and large garden.  They made many friends and were both involved in fundraising for many community projects including helping the local school.  Jim and Kari were blessed with a cherished son-in-law, Eric (Dickson), and two grandsons, Cooper and Taten. 


While the family loved Canada, and the good friends they made there, the winters became challenging and began to cut into all the activities they enjoyed so much.  So with some initial trepidation on his part, Jim and Kari moved to Ajijic, Mexico in June 2004.


After three months of glorious weather, playing golf three times a week and owning his own horse, Jim never wanted to live anywhere else. 


Living in Ajijic, he was again recruited by his wife to help with various fundraising events.  For seven years he made haggis for the more than 200 people attending the Rabbie Burns’ supper and was always a willing helper behind the scenes of countless other projects.


Mexico was his final home after a life filled with so many moves.  He was an avid traveller, intellectual, writer, horseback rider, golfer, cricketer, pilot, tennis and squash player, curler, guitar player, volunteer, a superb cook and witty storyteller. Jim was a wonderful cook and all their homes have been gathering places for family and friends for some wonderful meals, including some of his specialities – deboned turkey, gravlax, paella, and English pork pie. 


He so enjoyed the last “big” travel experience in 2017 when he and Kari travelled to Tanzania to visit their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.  It was the trip of a lifetime and one he enjoyed immensely and would have repeated but for his health.


Jim leaves behind his wife Kari (Ajijic); in Tanzania, daughter Claire, son-on-law Eric (Dickson), grandsons, Cooper and Taten; and son Mark (Vancouver); as well as his aunt, Madelaine (Johns); cousin Sara Johns (Jersey, Channel Islands), cousins Liz, John and Peter Hart (UK) and many wonderful friends.


As Jim wrote in a message to his family, “his was a life well-lived, well-travelled, well-loved and, finally, well spent.”  He will be missed forever by many friends and family members.  Financial donations are kindly being made by friends and family to the Poco a Poco San Pedro project in San Pedro Itzicán -, towards the creation of a “community kitchen” in a community centre that is currently in the planning stages.  Given his passion for cooking, we felt he would have liked to be helping others once again.


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