Chester A. Higgins Sr., 83, a former writer and editor of black newspapers and magazines who also was a public affairs assistant to senior-level government officials, died of colon cancer May 25 at the Hospice of Washington.
Mr. Higgins was a senior editor of Jet Magazine and a journalism instructor at Malcom X College in Chicago when he came to Washington in 1972. He came here to become a special assistant to Benjamin L. Hooks Jr., the first black appointee to the Federal Communications Commission.
Around that time, he was an adjunct professor at Howard University teaching magazine writing.
In 1976, shortly after Hooks was elected executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Mr. Higgins took a job as assistant chief in the public affairs office of the Army Department, a position he held for about four years until retiring in 1981.
He then spent about three years commuting from his home in Washington to New York, where he edited Crisis Magazine, a publication of the NAACP. He continued with his writing, most recently authoring an article for Crisis about a book alleging a massacre of black soldiers at a military camp in Mississippi in 1943.
Mr. Higgins also did public affairs work for the University of the District of Columbia, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the Center on Black Aged Inc., and served as a communications consultant to C. Delores Tucker, chairman of the National Political Congress of Black Women and crusader against "gangsta" rap.
Mr. Higgins was born in Chicago and raised there and in Lexington, Ky. During World War II, he served in the Army in the motor pools of segregated tank units in the China-Burma-India theater. After the war, he attended Kentucky State College, Louisville Municipal College and the University of Louisville.
He was a reporter for the Louisville Defender and was editor of the Detroit edition of the Pittsburgh Courier, once the country's largest black newspaper. He later joined Jet Magazine as a senior editor and columnist covering celebrities. He was a contributing editor of Ebony and other Johnson Publishing Co. periodicals.
He was a past board member of Public Access Corp. of Washington, past director of the D.C. Hall of Fame and a member of the National Press Club and the NAACP.
His honors included the 1967 first-place feature news award from the National Newspaper Publishers and the Army Department Outstanding Civil Service Medal.
His marriages to Varidee Loretta Young and Gonzella Blythe Clover ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Maria C. Kopecky Higgins of Washington; a son from his first marriage, Chester A. Higgins Jr. of Brooklyn, N.Y.; a daughter from his second marriage, Pamela K. Higgins of Detroit; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. A daughter by his second marriage, Janet Coleman, died in 1998.