Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral Home

201 25Th Ave North, Nashville, TN


Thomas Aquinas Higgins

August 15, 1932September 11, 2018

HIGGINS, Thomas Aquinas. Born Nashville, Tennessee, August 15, 1932. Died September 11, 2018 at Nashville, Tennessee. Preceded in death by his beloved wife Geraldine Gallagher Crawford Higgins and by grandparents Michael and Brigid Grimes Higgins, Kilconly, County Galway, Ireland and Charles Joseph and Katherine Lynch McGee, Nashville, Tennessee; parents John Francis and Margaret McGee Higgins, Nashville, Tennessee; and older brother Reverend John Joseph Higgins, MM, LaPaz, Bolivia. Survived by his daughter, Katherine Brigid Higgins DeLay (Pete), Thomas Aquinas Higgins, Jr. (Patricia), and John Francis Higgins, II (Beth); and two grandchildren, John Joseph Higgins, II and Caroline Rae Higgins, to whom he was devoted. He is also survived by his sisters, Katherine (Kitty) Brigid Higgins Brogden and Margaret (Bitsy)Mary Higgins Thompson. He received his early education at The Cathedral Grade School and Father Ryan High School. He attended Christian Brothers College in Memphis, Tennessee. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School, where he was a member of the Law Review. He was admitted to practice before Tennessee Supreme Court and subsequently before the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the United States Court for Military Appeals, and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Upon being graduated from Vanderbilt Law School, he received a commission as a First Lieutenant in The Judge Advocate General’s Corps, United States Army, and served three years on active duty. He was relieved from active duty as a captain and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster. Following his military service, he returned to Nashville and formed the firm of Willis and Higgins with the late William R. Willis, Jr. Subsequently, he became associated and later a partner with the firm of Cornelius, Collins, Higgins and White. He served as Secretary and Treasurer and as President of Nashville Bar Association. In addition, he was a member of the American Bar Association, Tennessee Bar Association, Nashville Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association, and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. During his boyhood, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and was a member of Troop 13 which had a cabin on Grizzard’s Hill between Hillside and Overlook Drive. He also spent ten glorious and happy summers as a boy at Camp Elklore and Camp Tennessee on the Elk River near Winchester, Tennessee. In September 1984, he was nominated by President Ronald Reagan for a seat on the United States District Court for Middle District of Tennessee and was confirmed by the United States Senate in October 1984 and took the oath of office in December 1984. He assumed Senior Status as a judge of the United States District Court in March 1999. He was a lifelong communicant of The Cathedral of The Incarnation and served on various board and committees of the Diocese of Nashville. He handled the incorporation for the Catholic Charities of Tennessee in 1961 and served on its original Board of Directors. He also handed the incorporation of Aquinas College and served on its original Board of Directors. He served on the Board of Trust for Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee. The family would like to extend its thanks and deepest appreciation to the caring staff and administration of the Blakeford at Green Hills. On Friday, September 14, 2018, the family will receive friends at The Cathedral of The Incarnation in the Sanctuary at 1 PM prior to the Mass of Christian Burial at 2 PM. Active Pallbearers will be Mr. Higgins’ nephews and grand-nephews; John Vernon Brogden, Kyle Matthew Williams, David Walton Thompson, Frank Joseph Thompson, Bryan Walton Thompson, Eric Alexander Thompson, Dean Thomas Howell, Matthew Walton Thompson, Walton Cater Hendricks, William Gregory Thompson. Honorary Pallbearers will be The Honorable William Joseph Haynes, Jr., Mr. Thomas Ivo Carlton, Jr., Phillip W. Hayes, MD., Vincent E. Wehby. In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Mr. Higgins may be made to The Cathedral of the Incarnation, The Ladies of Charity and the St. Cecilia Congregation of The Dominican Sisters.


  • Geraldine Gallagher Crawford Higgins, Beloved Wife (deceased)
  • Michael and Brigid Grimes Higgins, Grandparents (deceased)
  • Charles Joseph and Katherine Lynch McGee, Grandparents (deceased)
  • John Francis and Margaret McGee Higgins, Parents (deceased)
  • Reverend John Joseph Higgins MM, Brother (deceased)
  • Katherine (Pete) Brigid Higgins DeLay, Daughter
  • Thomas Aquinas (Patricia) Higgins Jr., Son
  • John Francis (Beth) Higgins II, Son
  • John Joseph Higgins II, Grandchild
  • Caroline Rae Higgins, Grandchild
  • Katherine (Kitty) Brigid Higgins Brogden, Sister
  • Margaret (Bitsy) Mary Higgins Thompson, Sister

  • John Vernon Brogden, Active Pallbearer
  • Kyle Matthew Williams, Active Pallbearer
  • David Walton Thompson, Active Pallbearer
  • Frank Joseph Thompson, Active Pallbearer
  • Bryan Walton Thompson, Active Pallbearer
  • Eric Alexander Thompson, Active Pallbearer
  • Dean Thomas Howell, Active Pallbearer
  • Matthew Walton Thompson, Active Pallbearer
  • Walton Cater Hendricks, Active Pallbearer
  • William Gregory Thompson, Active Pallbearer
  • The Honorable William Joseph Haynes, Jr., Honorary Pallbearer
  • Mr. Thomas Ivo Carlton, Jr., Honorary Pallbearer
  • Phillip W. Hayes, MD., Honorary Pallbearer
  • Vincent E. Wehby, Honorary Pallbearer

  • The Cathedral of the Incarnation
  • Ladies of Charity
  • St. Cecelia Congregation of the Dominican Sisters


  • Visitation Friday, September 14, 2018
  • Funeral Service Friday, September 14, 2018


Thomas Aquinas Higgins

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Donald Benson

September 13, 2018

While stationed in Nashville with the U. S. Marshals Service and living in Franklin, I got to know Judge Higgins both professionally and as a friend. He traveled to Knoxville to swear me in as the U. S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Tennessee. I enjoyed many memories of him both on and off the bench. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.