Mildred Svehlak Higgins, devoted wife and mother, died April 28, 2015, at home following a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 83.

She was born Feb. 12, 1932, in Derby, Conn. Mildred was a retired licensed physical therapist with a degree in physical therapy from Boston University, Sargent College in Boston, and continued graduate study at the University Hospital of Oklahoma. She worked during the polio epidemic in 1954 and 1955, before opening the physical therapy department with other physical therapists at the Appalachian Regional Hospital in Beckley, W.V.

Mildred met her future husband, James C. Higgins, an attorney and native of Beckley, and they were married in St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Derby on Sept. 7, 1957.

She was an active parishioner of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, where she taught in the CCD program. Mildred was a member of the Catholic Daughters of America. She also was instrumental in starting the Great Books Program at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School, and was a certified instructor in the program.

After raising 10 children, Mildred returned to physical therapy as the director of the physical therapy program at Mountain State University in Beckley. While acting director of the PTA program, she was instrumental in having the program certified by the American Physical Therapy Association.

She was an avid reader and member of a book club as well as an avid gardener, pianist, bridge and tennis player. Her passions were her husband and family, music, and spending summers at their second home on Martha’s Vineyard.

She was a great lady. She will be deeply missed by her husband, family and friends. Mildred was a registered organ donor to West Virginia Medical School at Morgantown.

She is survived by her loving husband of 57 years James C. Higgins. She is also survived by 10 children: Jamie H. Eason, James C. Higgins 2nd, John H. Higgins, Michael P. Higgins, Joseph E. Higgins, Thomas A. Higgins, Mary P. Bell, Vincent L. Higgins, Genevieve H. Cardile and Katherine H. Nunez. She is survived by one sibling, Henry Svehlak, and by 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents John and Genevieve Svehlak, and two siblings, John Svehlak and Genevieve Sonia Schenck.

A funeral mass was held on Saturday, May 2, celebrated by Monsignor Sacus. Donations can be made to St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Parish of Beckley, W.V.