The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Gladys Valerie Higgins


HURLEY, Wis. - Gladys Valerie Higgins, 96, a long-time resident of Hurley, formerly of Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Bessemer, Mich., passed away peacefully early Friday morning, June 23, 2017.

She was born on May 1, 1921, in Bessemer, the daughter of the late Oscar and Edith (Reed) Hill. Valerie attended Barber and Washington grade schools and A.D. Johnston High School.

She was employed by Hansen Glove Corporation in Ironwood, Mich., and Milwaukee as a glove cutter. During World War II, Valerie lived and worked in Detroit where she riveted airplane wings to assist in the war effort.

Valerie enjoyed gardening, flowers, knitting, crocheting, camping, playing the accordion and mandolin, and solving crossword and word search puzzles. She was a talented cook and baker. She took great pleasure playing and listening to music with her sister, Margie and other musicians. Throughout her life, dogs were a constant companion and comfort. She spent many happy hours watching and feeding song birds.

Valerie was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Kenosha, and formerly a member of Sharon Lutheran Church in Bessemer.

On Dec. 13, 1947, she was married to Joseph Tirpik in Bessemer. They first resided in Bessemer and later moved to Milwaukee. In Milwaukee, Valerie assisted in the remodeling of a duplex that they owned. Joseph preceded her in death on Nov. 6, 1969.

In 1971, she moved to Kenosha to be nearer her sister, Margie. On Jan. 20, 1973, she was married to Alvy Jay Higgins. During their marriage, Jay and Valerie went on many adventurous camping trips and memorable travels. Jay preceded her in death on Oct. 6, 1998.

In July 1999, she moved to Hurley when her sister, Margie and brother in-law, Kenneth moved and retired to be back up north. Soon thereafter, she had the good fortune to find love once again with Eino Piilola. Eino and Valerie celebrated 17 years together where each lovingly cared for one another. They found contentment watching television, shopping, listening to music and spending time with each other and their dogs, Maggie and Daisy. Eino preceded Valerie in death on Nov. 12, 2016.

Besides her parents, Valerie was preceded in death by two sisters, Florence "Dolly" Schwartz and Margaret "Margie" Maki; and two brothers, Earl Hill and Wilbert Hill.

She is survived by a brother, Lloyd Hill, Bessemer; a sister, Beverly (Ken) Wuorinen, Bloomington, Minn .; and many nieces and nephews.

In accordance with Valerie's wishes, cremation will take place.

A memorial service will be held Monday, July 3, at 1 p.m., preceded by visitation at noon, at Sharon Lutheran Church, 100 E. Sellar St., in Bessemer, with the Rev. Bill Jacobson officiating.

A committal service and inurnment will take place at Hillcrest Cemetery, Bessemer.

A luncheon will be served at Kastman Hall at the church.

The family would like to extend their gratitude to the staff at Villa Maria Health and Rehabilitation Center in Hurley, who provided comfort and loving care to Valerie while she was a resident. Special acknowledgements are given to Valerie's niece, Paula Schwartz Solberg and nephew, Richard Schwartz, who provided care and assistance to Valerie at her home.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Jerald Rocco, owner and manager of Lakeside Memorial Chapel Inc., in Wakefield, Mich. Condolences may be expressed online at


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