Our dear brother in Christ, Richard E (Dick) Higley, former senior coordinator of the Work of Christ Community in Lansing, Michigan, passed away on March 15, 2020 at the age of 91.
Dick was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on November 21, 1928. He attended seminary in Montreal, Canada, intent on becoming a Catholic priest. After concluding that the priesthood was not his calling, Dick came to East Lansing, Michigan, to attend Michigan State University, where he met the love of his life, Marilyn Patricia (Pat) Donovan. Dick and Pat married and raised six children. They also mourned the loss of 6 children: 5 miscarriages and one still-born. Dick earned his master’s degree in social work, and began a career that included teaching, counseling, and work as an adoption and foster-care specialist. Dick completed his career as the Michigan Social Services liaison to the State Legislature.
Dick and Pat joined the Work of Christ in the mid-1970s. He became a district coordinator in 1978, served as the senior coordinator of the community from 1983 to 1994, and again as a district coordinator from 1994 to 1997. Dick’s tenure as senior coordinator followed a particularly difficult time for the Work of Christ Community. It also followed a particularly difficult time for Dick’s health. He was asked to take on this service just before quadruple-bypass surgery. “If I survive the surgery,” Dick said, “I will serve in any way the members ask.” He did survive, and his fatherly presence was a key factor in the survival of the Work of Christ.
Under Dick’s leadership, the Work of Christ joined the Sword of the Spirit. Although the Lansing community had been established in the early days of the charismatic renewal and had been active in previous attempts to form a community of communities, it did not join the Sword of the Spirit when it was first established. Dick saw the need for the support, outside perspective, and resources that the Sword of the Spirit offered, and he led the community as we put all the elements of Sword of the Spirit life in place.
Dick and Pat had a gift of evangelistic hospitality. They brought many single people into their home and family for life in Christian household. They also reached out to people by inviting them to dinners—especially Lord’s Day meals. Many members of the Work of Christ can point to Dick and Pat as the ones who led them into a deeper walk with Jesus and into community.
In Retirement, much of Dick’s time and attention went to serving his wife as she succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. But even through this time, Dick and Pat maintained their life of evangelistic hospitality. They would regularly invite groups of people into their home for dinner and fellowship. Dick also continued to serve in the community as a member of the technician’s team, helping to set up the microphones and speakers for community gatherings, until, as he said, “the floor got too far away.” Pat passed away in April of 2014.
Dick was a true evangelist, pastor, and teacher. He “equipped the saints for the work of ministry, and edifying the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12)
A good shepherd who never left his flock.
Dick will always be remembered as the very best faithful and kind brother, friend and mentor. He will be missed for a long time.
As stated in so many comments, Dick was a father to all of us and a smiling, lovable grandfather to all of our children. He had the remarkable ability to remember, it seemed, all of our children’s names. My wife Nancy had the privilege to live with Dick and Pat for six months prior to our marriage. From that point on when Nancy and I had the opportunity to engage Dick in conversation he would always point out to me “you stole Nancy from Us” and then laugh like only Dick could laugh. Wholeheartedly! I have a wonderful picture of Dick and Nancy at one of the last prayer meetings at the WoC they both attended. Nancy also passed away on March 31, 2020 at the young age of 66 after a 10 year battle with early on-set of Alzheimer’s disease. Our loss but Heaven’s gain. If you would like that picture just email me your request. Dick, Pat and Nancy re-united!
Dick and I worked closely together, especially during times of great difficulty for our community. Having had the opportunity to see his Christ-like character and wisdom during those times, it’s a blessing to know his integrity, faith and steadfast service to the Lord will be rewarded.
Dick was the one of the “mothers and fathers a hundred fold” that the Lord promises those who follow Him and I always felt a fatherly concern from him for me, my wife and my kids. Dick came into the senior role in the Work of Christ at a time when we really needed someone to trust who was ‘older.’ He was consistently thankful, a gift of the Holy Spirit in him I believe. His joyful, thankful demeanor set an example that I tried to emulate. I will miss him but look forward seeing him again.
Dick Higley was a good brother. Those of us from Pittsburgh who knew him greatly appreciated his warmth, grace, and humor. Until we meet again.
Dick was a man of faithfulness and integrity. He was always joyful and encouraging. Dick was a mentor to me and an a model of servant leadership. We will all miss his infectious smile and encouraging words. Dick, may the Lord receive you into his heavenly kingdom.
Dick was an excellent example of servant leadership. He was always calm and diplomatic; and he was a unifying force through difficult discussions. Personally, he greeted me whenever I visited the Work of Christ, and was an example of Christian brotherhood. He blended friendship, leadership and joy in a very unique way and the entire Sword of the Spirit has benefited from his example of steady, patient leadership in troubled times.
What a gift of hospitality Dick and Pat had – when we first came to Lansing we stayed with them and Bob Sweet. So many happy and joyful times we had together over a glass of Scottish nectar. Rest in peace my friend.
Dick was a spiritual father to me and a source of Godly wisdom. I was privileged to live with him and Pat during difficult times in my life and those in the Work of Christ. The life he lived in his latter years was a great example of how to grow older gracefully, and, how to serve with the humility of the Lord. By God’s grace, when I enter our heavenly home, I will be listening for his infectious laughter and Pat’s angelic voice in song.
Dick had a impeccable gift of leadership. When times were tough in the Work of Christ it was him out front on the rough trail as with a scouting compass, leading us forward in committed Ecumenical Christian community. He was a special gift from God; most notably in those days.
REST IN PEACE BROTHER, WELL DONE!
Dick, you and my Dad can have deep theological discussions now. I KNOW you both will enjoy them. Jesus will paticipate I am sure! .
Dick was a man who truly loved the Lord in all that he did. He always had a heart of service, and he always had a warm smile and made you feel special. He was a gift from God to the Work of Christ and he will be missed.
Farewell, good friend – live on in Glory!
Our brother is in Jesus’s arms.
“Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.”