For five decades, Clarinda Higgins yearned to discover the details of what had happened to her beloved first cousin Mark Higgins. In 1959 at the age of 18, Mark left home on a quest for self-actualization by becoming the first student staff member at a jungle hospital in Gabon under the auspices of the famous medical missionary Albert Schweitzer. After completing a year of service, Mark trekked 2,000 miles solo into the rebellious, anarchistic and newly independent Congo and then disappeared. To solve the mystery of Mark’s experiences and disappearance, Higgins and her husband William Armstrong conducted extensive research for two years, traveled deep into the jungles of Gabon, and then wrote a book Against the Current: How Albert Schweitzer Inspired a Young Man’s Journey. Their serendipitous and surprising findings made this talk a fascinating presentation about quests for authenticity and adventure, resulting in inspiring legacies that endure today.
Clarinda Higgins is a graduate of Smith College, a national award-winning teacher and active in several local civic organizations. William Armstrong, a former reporter and public relations executive, serves on the board of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. The couple lives in Westport.