Higgins’ career in outdoor sports media spanned more than 40 years and included time in sales with Field & Stream, World Fishing Network and B.A.S.S., as publisher of Western Outdoors Publications and as founder and publisher of Florida Fishing Weekly.
Brian Thurston, publisher of Fishing Tackle Retailer and The Fishing Wire, was one of Higgins’ closest friends for decades.
“He was such a dear friend, and you always knew when Joe was in the room. His infectious smile, booming voice and the way he rattled off ideas like they were being fired out of a machine gun made him an absolutely unique and irresistible personality,” Thurston said. “He was a true leader and loved by his coworkers as well as his clients.”
Deborah Smart worked with Higgins at B.A.S.S. over the past decade. “Joe was a force in the industry,” she said. “He had boundless energy and was intelligent, creative, funny and always smiling. He was dear to so many of us in the industry and will be sorely missed. I will miss my friend and cohort terribly.
“He adored his wife, Tammy, and their twins, Aiden and Madison. When he was on the road — as he so often was — there was never an evening when he didn’t take time to call home and tell the kids a bedtime story.”
“Joe was an unforgettable personality,” said FTR managing editor, Ken Duke, who worked with Higgins at B.A.S.S. “In the outdoor sports industry, pro anglers and pitchmen get all the publicity, but Joe Higgins was behind the scenes making it all possible, finding the sponsors and advertisers to keep the lights on and the doors open. More than that, though, he was an inspiration to everyone who knew and worked with him. Somehow you just felt better about life and work after a few minutes with Joe.”
Higgins is survived by his wife Tammy, daughter Madison Elizabeth and son Aiden Joseph. A Celebration of Life gathering is being planned in his native Chicago with details to follow.