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Edward A. Higgins dies; Post-Dispatch editorial editor supported historic preservation

Edward A. Higgins dies; Post-Dispatch editorial editor supported historic preservation

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Edward A. Higgins, a former Post-Dispatch editorial editor whose work included advocating for historic preservation, died Sunday (Dec. 1, 2019) at his home in Chesterfield. He was 88.

"He took his responsibility as the institutional voice of the newspaper seriously, and didn't want readers to mistake the newspaper's views for the opinions of one person," said an April 2, 1997, item announcing his retirement that ran in the Post-Dispatch.

Mr. Higgins worked at the Post-Dispatch for almost 44 years, the last 10 as editorial editor.

"He was a liberal at heart, but very tolerant of everybody's views," said his wife of 65 years, Mary Suzanne Higgins. She said her husband died of congestive heart failure, and had entered hospice care the day before Thanksgiving. 

As editorial editor, Mr. Higgins refused to refer to the Trans World Dome as such. Instead, he called it the Taxpayer Dome or the Billboard Dome. (Today, it's the Dome at America's Center, and before that, the Edward Jones Dome.)

He defended Social Security and was skeptical of the CIA.

He supported historic preservation and especially was appalled at how the Syndicate Trust building at 915 Olive Street — which he insisted on calling the Scruggs building — had deteriorated. Built in 1907, it languished for years before eventually being renovated into condos and apartments. 

Mr. Higgins graduated from St. Louis University High School and St. Louis University. He was hired at the Post-Dispatch in June 1953, the day after receiving his degree in history.

He worked as a general assignment reporter and spent a year as an assistant city editor before joining the editorial staff in 1967. He became editor of the newspaper's Commentary Page in 1984 and established an opinion page opposite the editorial page. Three years later, he was named editor of the editorial page, where he supervised a staff of 11 that included five editorial writers.

"As editor, one of my biggest jobs is reading all the letters to the editor every day. It's a chore, but it gives you real insight into what readers are thinking," Mr. Higgins said when he retired.

Besides his wife, his survivors include three children: Nancy Higgins of Denver; David Higgins of Newtown, Pennsylvania; and Carol Graham of Chesterfield, as well as two grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were pending on Monday.

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