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Once, a daring man on flying trapeze

Published Dec. 8, 2006

A "catcher" in an aerialist act, Glenn Higginbotham swept Connie Waller off her feet.

Or was it the other way around?

Mr. Higginbotham, a gymnast and assistant coach at Normal University in Bloomington, Ill., and his future wife ended up on the flying trapeze.

Her parents, part of the "Flying Fishers" with Ringling Bros. Circus, no doubt were pleased.

That was years ago, before Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham retired to Florida and ran a dance studio in Tarpon Springs and later in New Port Richey.

Mr. Higginbotham, formerly of St. Petersburg, died Saturday (Dec. 2, 2006) at Bay Tree Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, Palm Harbor. He was 93.

A daughter, Debra May, asked her mother Tuesday to recall the romantic scenario that led to a 69-year marriage.

Her grandparents "needed a catcher, and my dad was young and strong," May said after speaking to her mother, a nursing home patient recovering from a recent fall. "They needed someone, and he filled the bill.

"My dad liked my mother," May said, "and my mother liked my dad. He felt it was his chance to be next to this beautiful young woman and get to know her better."

Until she met her future husband, Mrs. Higginbotham had no interest in the trapeze. She wanted to dance.

Born in Shanahan, Ill., Mr. Higginbotham came to St. Petersburg from Bloomington with his wife in 1935.

They moved to Tarpon Springs in 1953, then to New Port Richey in 1978 and returned in 1988 to Tarpon Springs.

He was a carpenter and a member of First United Methodist Church and the Lions Club of Tarpon Springs. He was a 32nd degree Mason.

Survivors beside his wife include two sons, Herb May, Tarpon Springs, and John Hollembeak, Newark, Del.; two daughters, Debra May, Tarpon Springs, and Demaris Hollembeak, Newark; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Vinson Funeral Home, Tarpon Springs, is in charge of arrangements, which were not complete Tuesday.

Some information in this obituary came from Times files.