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January, 28, 2016

Not Just a Builder, but a Builder of Men

Brigham Thomas Higgs

By Brady Misustin

Brigham Thomas Higgs, originally from Castle Valley, moved to Provo with his family in 1895 so that his children would have the opportunity to attend Brigham Young Academy. To provide for his family, he took a job working in the heating plant of the Academy. In his spare time, he would help with carpentry and other repair projects that the school needed. After only a couple years of working for the early Academy, Brigham was asked to take a position as a professor of carpentry and woodworking, which he graciously accepted.

While working as a professor, he also served as the superintendent of buildings and grounds. There, he would gather the students on the custodial crew in the mornings to teach them the value of work and virtuous living. He found it a vital part of his role to not only teach them technical skills, but also to help them develop into the men that he knew they could be. He would even visit the boarding houses of those he worked with to assure that their needs were being met. One student said of him, “He was more than a builder of saw mills, and grist mills, and bridges, and houses; he was a builder of character, a builder of men.”

This attitude of building men permeated his work, even when at the age of fifty-eight he suffered a serious accident while installing a heating system. The injuries left him in a full-body cast, which would be humiliating and debilitating for most. Brigham was still described as, “smilingly and courageously supervising” the students who worked with him and “always carrying more than his share” even in his weakened state. He was a man of character who helped others achieve the full stature of their potential.

1- Emma Higgs Wakefield, “Life Sketch of Brigham Thomas Higgs,” 1, MSS SC 1570, Brigham

Higgs Papers, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young

University, Provo, Utah, paraphrasing Brigham T. Higgs, “Talk to a Group of College Boys

Doing Janitor Work at B. Y. U. University,” typescript, May 5, 1934, 1, MSS SC 1570, Brigham Higgs Papers, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young

University, Provo, Utah.

2- Emma Higgs Wakefield, “Life Sketch of Brigham Thomas Higgs,” 3, MSS SC 1570, Brigham Higgs Papers, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young

University, Provo, Utah.

3- R. H. Boyle, address given in honor of B. T. Higgs, Manavu Ward meetinghouse, July 15,

1939, [4], MSS SC 1570, Brigham T. Higgs Papers, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B.

Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

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