Higgins, 71, had served as the city`s mayor from 1996 to 2004, before losing a re-election bid for a third term to current Mayor David Taylor.
Prior to his mayoral term, Higgins served on the Amherst Council for eight years, and he was Council president for four years.
Mayor Taylor said his one-time opponent did good things for Amherst throughout his political career.
“He was instrumental in providing a number of good things for the city,” Taylor said. “He was a good man.”
In a 2003 Chronicle-Telegram story highlighting Higgins` departure from office, the former mayor said flood control and road repair projects ranked among his proudest accomplishments, in addition to an ever-growing turnout on the city`s Pride Day.
John Jaworski, the chairman of Amherst`s Democratic Party, served as Amherst`s mayor while Higgins was on the City Council.
“I`ve always felt that John had the best interests of the city in mind,” Jaworski said. “His efforts, both as a councilman and mayor, contributed to what Amherst is today.”
Jaworski said Higgins had been in and out of hospitals for some time.
Higgins was born in Amherst and raised in Lorain. He graduated in 1954 from St. Mary`s Catholic High School in Lorain, and later from the University of Dayton in 1958.
He was employed with U.S. Steel in Lorain for 38 years, and had been a resident of Amherst since 1973.
Higgins` wife of 44 years, Marilyn Higgins, couldn`t be reached for comment Tuesday.