Olga Mercy Higginbotham was born in Tucson, AZ on September 30, 1944. She was predeceased by her father Robert R. Duarte, mother Rita O. Duarte, and brother Albert Oros Duarte; survived by one sister Alice Mae Ford, and one brother Richard David Duarte. Formerly married to Juan Roberto Higginbotham, they are both survived by their four children: Elizabeth Ann Thomas, Margaret Ann Macias, John Robert Higginbotham and Christine Rebecca Carter. Olga had 21 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, affectionately known to them as “Miss Olga”.
Olga was a devoted, single mother from 1976 until the time of her passing. She never remarried. Mom was our strongest advocate and supporter in every aspect of our lives - through the good and bad. One of our fondest memories was that she was at every chorus and band concert, came to every football game to watch us in the marching band during all our high school careers.
She received a two-year certificate as a medical receptionist from Pima Community College in 1978. During that time, she also sold Avon. Margaret and Elizabeth when young children would say: “mommy went Avon-ing” when she went to work. She worked in the medical industry as a surgery scheduler. She was an employee of Radiology Ltd., and Southwestern Surgery Associates. Her most recent employer from which she retired after 17 years of service was with Center for Neurosciences of Tucson.
Olga had a close relationship with her sister, Alice. Although they were separated by distance, they were next-door neighbors at heart. They would visit each other between Arizona and Louisiana, doing a lot of shopping, traveling and eating out. They both would roll out the red carpet in preparation of their visits with each other. In the earlier years, when Alice was able to travel to Tucson, they would meet up with brothers Albert and Richard at their parents ranch and would play cards, dance and enjoy listening to Albert play his guitar.
Mom was the type of person that knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to say so. For a small person (4’11’ & ¾), she was a big personality and had an even bigger heart. She was constantly doing things for other people. Whether it was giving little gifts, or “care packages”, Mom was always thinking of others. On her 70th birthday, she threw her own party. Although she received her birthday gifts, she showered everyone that was there with presents. As pictures were being sorted through, apparently she had a love for dress-up for company holiday parties! She always made her costumes to participate in. Mom enjoyed shopping or making costumes for her grandchildren and would go trick-or-treating with them.
For Christmas, in earlier years, mom (and dad) would take us to see the lights at Winterhaven. In the more recent years, she would decorate her house and display a Christmas village, for all to enjoy and quiz everyone to see if we were paying attention. A prize would follow for the winner, of course. She would host “themed” family gatherings on birthdays and Mother’s Day like tea parties.
Some of her hobbies included reading romance and time-period novels, watching classic movies or musicals, cross-stitching and crocheting. Upon retirement, Mom enjoyed shopping at the Goodwill, and getting together with her friends for lunch. We used to tease her that she needed to pencil her children into her busy social calendar.
Mom enjoyed when we would come to her house to visit. Often times we would play a Mexican card game, Malia for a big pot of $1.00. She also learned how to play Spades, and would always bid blind. When she would “sandbag”, she thought it was a good thing and would be so proud! (Mom, it actually was bad!)
Mom started a tradition of a birthday lunch between her daughters, Elizabeth, Margaret and Christine, because their birthdays were close together. The first time, it just so happened that we wore the same color. So since then we would agree on a color theme. The desired meeting spot was Mi Nidito. We plan on keeping with this tradition and passing it onto our daughters.
With her son, John, they would go to local Broadway shows, and the Gas-Light Theater. Although we all are UofA fans, Mom and John had a special love for it. While John went to the UofA for 2 years, Mom was a football season-ticket holder, helping Dick Tomey coach from the stands. She was also faithful in supporting Wildcat basketball, and would coach Lute Olsen and Sean Miller from her couch. Sometimes we would receive a phone call to see if we also were watching the game.
One of the hobbies that was mentioned earlier, Mom passed on to her youngest, Christine. The very first musical that mom introduced her to was the King and I. Christine fell in the love with the big, poufy dresses and costumes. The latest genre they watched together was the old classics. Christine inherited mom’s singing talent. But of course none of us would admit that mom could sing. She would ask us if we wanted to hear her sing something and we would abruptly tell her “no thank you” because we didn’t like her style of music. But she wouldn’t give up. If we asked her a question about something, like: “Mom, do you know…?” Her reply would be: “No, but if you hum a few bars, I’ll fake it”.
As we grew up and had families of our own, mom decided she could use a companion. She finally got a Chihuahua dog. Mom named her April because that was the month she was born. April would go everywhere with her and was spoiled! To the tune of Mom taking her for spa treatments so April could get her paws done.
We shared all of that to say this: Mom, we were watching and listening when you thought we weren’t. We were paying attention. We will remember. We will cherish the memories we have because they started with you. You will forever be missed. We love you Mom!