Joel Higgins, age 32, of Ames and formerly of Grand Junction, died June 9, at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. A Celebration of Life will be Saturday, June 14, at 10:30 a.m. at the Marion Street United Methodist Church in Boone with Rev. James Barnett officiating. Burial will be in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery, south of Grand Junction.
Joel David Higgins was born on February 19, 1982, in Des Moines, to parents David and Joan (Babb) Higgins. He attended East Greene Schools in Rippey and Grand Junction, graduating in 2000. Music and technology were the center of Joel’s life, particularly his love of jazz band in high school. In his free time, he spent many hours with his friend Haven working on and venturing out in unique cars around Greene County. He enrolled at Indian Hills Community College for just under a year before returning to Grand Junction then moving to Ogden. He worked at Greene County Medical Center and in the fall of 2004, enrolled in the Network Technology Program at Vatterott College in Des Moines. Before finishing there in 2005, he worked in two temporary information technology jobs in Des Moines, then was hired at McFarland Clinic in the MIS department in 2006.
In May 2003, Joel heard about a recent high school graduate named Jana Flook from Coon Rapids who was also a musician. He decided to send her what he called an “awkward” email, and invited her to Ledges State Park to meet with friends and grill-out. Jana was instantly drawn to his sense of humor, and during their first several dates, they realized they had a deep bond to each other in countless aspects of life. Joel and Jana shared the same appreciation for all genres of music and their connection through the aesthetic effects of music cannot be put into words. They officially started dating that year on June 8.
Joel continued to work at McFarland until 2009 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He fought through chemo and a bone marrow transplant before being cleared to work again in 2010. On August 7, 2010,
Joel and Jana were married at Marion Street United Methodist Church in Boone. Joel began working in a new position at Iowa State University in 2010 where he remained until April. In mid-2013, Joel started having more significant breathing problems as a complication of his bone marrow transplant and underwent a double lung transplant on May 26. He suffered severe heart complications two weeks after the surgery, and passed away at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on June 9. He was 32.
Joel was known to all for his patient and kind heart. He was attentive to the little details of life and had a love for nature, often stopping to observe animals on the ISU campus, and taking beautiful photos of the sky. He had a passion for technology, and his constant desire to learn translated into his exceptional ability to problem solve and troubleshoot. His sense of humor was truly all of his own. He loved to make others laugh, either through his wittiness or his extraordinary ability to create a pun.
He is survived by wife Jana of Ames; parents David and Joan Higgins of Grand Junction; sister Amy Riske and her husband Charlie of Hanover Park, IL; mother-in-law and father-in-law Carolyn and Linn Flook of Coon Rapids; sister-in-law Linnea Wemhoff and her husband Pete of Red Oak; brother-in-law Darby Flook and wife Amy Johnson of Sunnyvale, CA; sister-in-law Rachel Flook of Lincoln, NE; nieces Elsa and Liah Wemhoff and Zoe Flook; nephews Jonah Wemhoff and Owen Flook; and lifelong best friend Haven Hick, his wife Lisa, and their children Henry, Brayden, and Charlie.
Joel was preceded in death by grandparents Walter and Wilma Babb and Tom and Wava Higgins, uncles Walter “Sam” Babb, and Kenny and Lyle Higgins, and cousin Dominic Higgins.
Friends may call at Schroeder Memorial Chapel at Sixth and Marshall in Boone on June 13 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. where the family will be present from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Visitation continues on June 14 at the Church from 9:30 a.m. to servicetime.
In memory of Joel, memorial donations may be given at http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/joel-higgins-memorial/18949... Online condolences may be made to www.schroedermemorialchapel.com.