Mary Lou Harris Roberts (1934-2021) passed away peacefully on July 22, 2021 at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital in the presence of her son, John F. Higgins IV, and his wife, Whitney. She was 86.
Born in Wenatchee, Washington on November 24, 1934, Mary Lou or “Lou” as her young friends once called her was the only child of Lewis P. Harris and Doris Mary Hardwick Harris. The Harris family moved around some, including to Bay Village, Ohio and Oakland, California before landing in Monroe, Louisiana where Mary Lou attended Neville High School and flourished in social and academic activity. Mary Lou was a member of numerous clubs and honor societies, including Sigma Sigma, Delta Beta Sigma, the National Thespian Society, and the Tigerette Dance Team to name a few. She was beloved by her classmates and was on the Homecoming Court and elected to the Student Council.
Following graduation from Neville High School, Mary Lou attended Louisiana State University and became a lifelong LSU Tigers fan. She was a member of the Tri Delta Sorority and thoroughly embraced all of the fun and excitement of university life. While she was incredibly active socially, attending parties and events nearly weekly, she also excelled academically. She was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, the American Association of University Women and was invited to and became a member of Mortor Board, the highest academic achievement for women at LSU at that time.
As passionate as Mary Lou was about learning, history, other cultures, and studying the world around her in general, it is only fitting that she graduated from LSU and immediately went on to become a teacher, impacting the lives of hundreds and hundreds of students during her over thirty year teaching career, starting off in Lake Charles, Louisiana and continuing on during the many years she lived in Baton Rouge.
But of all the young people Mary Lou devoted herself to over the years, the one who was the center of her world from the time he came into it was her beloved son, John. Mary Lou spent hours and hours pouring into him all of her knowledge and insights about everything from history to art to foreign lands and travel to matters of the heart and ways to be a good citizen and friend. John learned from his mother about the importance of service to your community, learning from her example as she actively participated in the Junior League of Lake Charles and then Baton Rouge and spent countless hours volunteering in her community. She was often recognized in the local paper for her numerous charitable endeavors. She was also a gal’s gal. Mary Lou was surrounded throughout her life by fun and vivacious friends, and she traveled for years with a large group of them, going to places such as Mexico, Florida, Colorado, Europe, British Columbia and more. Mary Lou was an adoring grandmother, and she loved most in her final days to get all the updates on the goings on of her precious grandchildren. She loved them so dearly.
Mary Lou is preceded in death by her mother and father. She is survived by her son, John Higgins, a bankruptcy attorney in Houston, her daughter-in-law, Whitney Higgins, a public finance attorney in Houston, both fellow Tigers, her grandson, Ryan Higgins, a graduate of SMU and employee with Whole Foods, her grandson, Sean Higgins, a graduate of SMU who recently received an MBA from The University of Texas and who is working with FTI Consulting, Sean’s wife, Erin Higgins, also a graduate of SMU who works for Frito-Lay, her granddaughter, Katherine Higgins, a graduate of The University of Alabama who works for Stanley Black & Decker, bonus grandson Charles Ables who will attend Colorado State University in the fall, and bonus grandson John Ables a junior at Lamar High School in Houston.
Mary Lou was beloved for her sharp wit, incredible sense of humor, dedication to her family, and passion for the world. Though she had difficulty seeing in her final years, she always managed to spot a butterfly or bright flower and to see the beauty in the world around her. She will be greatly missed.
A private celebration of life will be held on Friday, July 30, 2021 at 3:30 p.m. at Bradshaw-Carter.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to any of the following:
Foundation for East Baton Rouge School System, a non-profit that raises funds to support the East Baton Rouge School System where Mary Lou spent most of her career.
Our Lady of the Lake Foundation, an organization that provides support to the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center where Mary Lou volunteered for years.
Teach for America, an organization that strives to make access to quality education a reality for all children in America, an endeavor near and dear to Mary Lou’s heart.