Obituary of Vera Marie Imblum Higdon
Vera Marie Imblum Higdon
April 16, 1920 – July 18, 2019
She was known for her big welcoming smile, her terrific musical talent, her willingness to listen to all your woes and news, and her generosity of spirit. If someone needed a family or a home, she would warmly welcome them in.
Vera was born on April 16, 1920 in Pueblo, Colorado, to Leo and Theresa Imblum. She relished her “prairie girl” days until the family moved to San Diego, California, where she graduated from Our Lady of Peace Academy. Vera had grown into an attractive young woman who had so many suitors that her mother counted 57 boyfriends in one year. She started to study nursing but was forced to discontinue when she married (common in the 1930’s). She then concentrated on her family and her music.
Vera demonstrated her musical ability at the age of four when she came inside from playing, heard Ignatz Paderewski playing piano on the radio, walked over to the piano and played the same thing. Her astonished parents decided that music lessons would be appropriate, a decision for which she was always grateful because she could then read music and knew key changes. She became well recognized as a great keyboard accompanist. She worked with a father-daughter dance team, Eduardo and Margarita Cansino, when the daughter was only fourteen. Later that girl became better known to the world as Rita Hayworth. Vera accompanied Steve Martin’s father, a banjo player. She played with the internationally known group, the Sons of the Pioneers, until they were going on a tour and she was pregnant with her fourth child and could not go, thereby inspiring a lasting policy against women being full members of that group. Vera always maintained membership in several local bands wherever she lived. Her ability as a virtuoso on the Hammond organ (and with that smile) gave her a following as a soloist in various restaurants.
Her children can tell you that whenever company came to the house, the organ or piano would be played to requests. Vera’s repertoire included the entire ASCAP treasury and she was almost never stumped on requests. Even when on vacation she would seek out chances to play. At her 75th (surprise) birthday party, an entire band was there to surprise her and you could see her itch to join them. Her music was what introduced her to Villa Siena. Having played there for years, when the time came to choose an assisted living residence, Villa Siena was the top of her list.
Vera was mother to nine children and managed to fit her music around their requirements. She was proud of each one of those children and their varied accomplishments. It’s a wonder how she survived many of those years on so little sleep because she worked nights as a musician and days supporting children’s different schedules. She possessed a strong Catholic faith and also dedicated her gift of music to her St. Simon's parish and surrounding communities for decades. She was predeceased by her husband, M. Kirby Higdon, and one daughter, Mary Therese Hostetler. She is survived by her children, Rona Schriber, Thomas Higdon (Bette), Michael Higdon (Jo), Edward Higdon, Regina Huelsenkamp (Willy), Marianne Holloway, Cheryl Canning, Barbara Cooper (Brian), and 12 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Villa Siena Foundation at www.villa-siena.org are most appreciated.
To send flowers to the family of Vera Higdon, please visit Tribute Store
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