Ellen Endicott (Monks) Higgins

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  • "Ellen was a kind and thoughtful mentor to me while I worked..."
    - Eileen Arsenault
  • "My deepest sympathies. May the "God of all comfort," help..."
    - Ashley
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Ellen M. Higgins, 89
CAPE ELIZABETH - Ellen Endicott Monks Higgins died Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, at Maine Medical Center in Port-land.
Ellen was born in Pitts-field, Mass., on Feb. 15, 1928. She was the oldest of four children born to the Reverend G. Gardner Monks and Katharine Knowles Monks, of Lenox and Cohasset, Mass., and later, South Portland.
She attended the Foxhollow School in Lenox, Mass., and graduated from the Winsor School in Brookline, Mass., in 1945. Her grandmother, Olga Eliza Gardner Monks, was the niece of Isabella Stewart Gardner, of Boston.
She attended Vassar College for two years before marrying Austin Douglas Higgins, of New York City and Woodstock, Vt., on Aug. 9, 1947, in Cohasset, Mass.
Following their wedding, Ellen and Austin moved to St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H., where Austin continued his career as an English teacher, and later became the head of the newly-formed art department. Ellen was active as a mother of five children, as well as a dorm mother, as a member of the Altar Guild arranging flowers at the chapel, and with the Masters Players, a faculty theater group.
In 1957, during Austin's sabbatical year, they and their young family lived in Spain, which captivated Ellen's imagination and sparked her lifelong passion for Spanish culture. They co-founded, with Spanish friends, the Colegio Arcangel in Madrid, today a leading primary school in the city.
In 1969, they left St. Paul's School, and moved to Cambridge, Mass., until establishing residence in Cape Elizabeth in 1971.
Ellen was a passionate advocate and collector of Maine arts and crafts. In 1973, she founded The Marketplace on Exchange Street in Portland, which was devoted to selling art and craftwork of Maine origin. She served as a trustee of the Portland Museum of Art, and for many years volunteered at its store. She was a member of the Portland Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Chilton Club in Boston.
Her devotion to her extended family was huge. Everyone was welcomed warmly at her home, where her cooking talents were on display. For 21 years, the last six as chair, she served on the board of the Roque Island Gardner Homestead Corporation, a family homestead which owns several islands in Downeast Maine.
Ellen was curious, independent and strong-minded. She loved to travel, and often invited her children and grandchildren to join her. Apart from her love of family, she was gracious, thoughtful and engaging with all whom she met.
Ellen's husband, Austin, predeceased her in 1998. She is survived by her five children, John P.M. Higgins, Charlotte H. Alexander and Jennifer D.H. Donaldson, of Cape Elizabeth; Kate H. Gonzalez, of San Antonio, Texas; and Nicholas H.S. Higgins, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; 15 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her brothers and sisters-in-law, George G. Monks, of Andover, Mass.; Robert A.G. and Millicent S. Monks, of Cape Elizabeth; and Susan B. Monks, of Longmeadow, Mass.; as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins. A younger brother, William F.K. Monks, of Longmeadow, Mass., predeceased her in 2013.
A memorial service will be held at the Spurwink Church, 533 Spurwink Ave., Cape Elizabeth, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, at 3 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in her memory to the
Portland Museum of Art
7 Congress Square
Portland, ME 04101

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Funeral Home
South Portland, ME 04106-3802
(207) 799-4472
Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram from Sept. 1 to Sept. 3, 2017
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