Harrison, Nan Higdon - Age 80

2010-2011 HFA President Nan Higdon Harrison

A Tribute to Former HFA President Nan Higdon Harrison 

(January 6, 1939-January 21, 2019) 

By Her Sisters 

Nan Higdon Harrison passed away peacefully on Monday, January 21st, 2019 in her home in Longboat Key, Florida. After an extended illness which included a courageous fight against lung cancer, she entered hospice in early January and was well cared for and loved until the end. Nan is survived by her husband Fred Harrison, her children, Karen (Jeff) Long of Fishers, IN, Geoff Harrison (Linda Chou) of Seattle, WA and her sisters Sally (Boone) Swain of Lebanon, TN and Jane (Tom) Brackett of Blue Ridge, GA. Nan has five grandchildren: Forrest and Sarah Long, Devan, Colin and Rylan Harrison. 

Nan about age 7 (in center) with parents and sister

Nan about age 7 (in center) with parents and sister 

Mary Nan was born on January 6, 1939 in Ducktown, Tennessee to Walter Q. and Rachel M. Higdon. Her parents named her for both her paternal grandmother, Mary Elmira Arp Higdon, and her maternal grandmother, Nannie Elmira Holder McKey. She grew up in Copperhill, TN and graduated from Copper Basin High School in 1957. She was a student at Salem College in Winston Salem, North Carolina for 2 years before transferring to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1961. After graduation Nan began as a fashion copy writer at Miller's, a department store in Knoxville. From there she moved to Atlanta, GA and began work at Davison's, a division of Macy's. She quickly moved from writing "basement copy” to assistant copy chief and fashion promotion writer. She married Fred W. Harrison in 1965 and moved to Jackson, Alabama. After 3 years they moved to the Kalamazoo, Michigan area where they lived for over 50 years. They have also lived part time in Longboat Key, FL for the past 20 years. 

At one time Nan and a partner represented the Doncaster company, a producer of custom-made clothing. She also worked as the volunteer coordinator for the YWCA. Nan was Vice-President and Office Manager at Hycorr Machine Corporation from 1985 to 2012, where she worked alongside her husband, Fred, in their manufacturing business. Nan and Fred were inducted into the Association of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC) Hall of Fame in 2009. They have the distinction of being the first couple inducted, and Nan was the first female in the 25 years of the award. Her involvement with AICC included their Long Range Planning Committee and annual trips to Washington, D.C. to encourage legislators to support manufacturing in the U.S. 

Cutting the cake, 1965

Nan was active in the community throughout her life. Her love for her community was expressed through service in numerous organizations, including the following: 

• Kalamazoo Young Women's Club 

• American Association of University Women (AAUW) where she served as President 

• Member of the Kalamazoo Service Club/Kalamazoo Junior League, serving as their first president 

• Higdon Family Association President, 2 terms, and Board Member for many years 

• Kalamazoo Arts Council Board of Directors 

• Stulberg International String Competition Board of Directors 

• President of the Fairway Bay Homeowner's Association in FL 

• Gull Lake Country Club Board of Directors 

• Miami University Parents Council President

Cutting the cake, 1965 

Nan was fun, energetic, full of life, generous, determined, and self-reliant. Her enthusiasm was contagious; she threw herself totally into whatever project or organization she was part of. These qualities and her organizational skills enabled her to advance the various organizations in which she was involved: their family business, community organizations involving arts or education, Higdon Family Association annual meetings in Kentucky and Michigan. She was never too busy to make time for family gatherings in Michigan and Florida or to assist her elderly aunt by arranging for her care and handling her estate. An avid tennis player and frequent snow skier, she was an inspiration for the importance and enjoyment of lifelong physical fitness.

Her son, Geoff, describes Nan’s qualities that have inspired him: “She had a trust in people and also the self-confidence to make connections. She trusted that she could relate to anyone and did so on a daily basis. She treated the world as if we all know each other, talk to anyone, anytime, anyplace. She taught me to believe in people. She had an opinion that everyone had something to offer and should be given a chance to live up to their potential.” He describes how Nan acted on this opinion by generously giving of her time and resources to help people reach that potential. 

The 3 Higdon sisters in San Antonio at HFA meeting copy

The 3 Higdon sisters in San Antonio at HFA meeting.

 Carolyn Cole paid tribute to Nan with the following: “Her light was just too enormous to be contained in our earth’s gravity! No matter where she was, who she was with or what she was doing, she created an impactful vortex on all of us. We all carry that in our hearts and souls which means that Nan’s essence remains with us as we continue on our life journeys.” Her sister Sally expressed her appreciation for Nan: “She had a profound and lasting effect on each of us and will be remembered with love for her generous gifts of self to her family, friends, and community. As her sister I will cherish a lifetime of her influence, love, and wonderful memories!” 

Her memorial website states: “We remember Nan as a beautiful, generous and caring person who had a positive influence on everyone who knew her. She was outgoing, social and full of life and loved bringing people together. We will miss and remember her forever.” https://www.forevermissed.com/nan-harrison/#about

Rachel, Ellen, Katy, Sarah, Karen and Nan at Fred's 80th birthday party

A celebration of life and reception was held at the Fairway Bay Clubhouse, Longboat Key, FL on Saturday January 26th. In her memory, the family invites you to support the following causes and organizations that she loved: 

Tidewell Hospice (FL) https://tidewellhospice.org/home/giving/donate-now/ Tidewell provided Nan with great care and compassion during her time in hospice. 

Stulberg International String Competition in Kalamazoo www.stulberg.org/support/donate/ Nan was passionate about giving young people the opportunity to pursue their love of music. 

Neuro Challenge for Parkinson's of Sarasota https://www.parkinsonsneurochallenge.org/about/sarasota-parkinsons-donations.html In recognition of patients with Parkinson's including Nan and Fred's friends Larry and Nola Hietbrink. 

Higdon Family Association Scholarship Fund http://www.higdonfamily.org/hfa-scholarship-program/index.html 

Rachel, Ellen, Katy, Sarah, Karen and Nan at Fred's 80th birthday party

The whole family at Gull Lake copy

The whole family at Gull Lake.

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