Don Lynwood Riggs

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Don Lynwood Riggs

Birthdate: (92)
Birthplace: Snowflake, Navajo, Arizona, USA
Death: April 23, 2001 (92)
Utah County, Utah, USA
Place of Burial: Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Don Frederick Riggs and Mary West Riggs
Husband of Mary Heywood Lewis Riggs and Verona Robinson
Father of <private> Riggs; <private> Walker (Riggs); <private> Riggs and <private> (Riggs)
Brother of Rockford Ray Riggs, Sr.; Ruby Lapriel Riggs; Mary Veon Shupe and <private> Riggs

Occupation: Auto Salesman in 1930 census in Seattle, Washington; Manager of a Tourist Court in Wilcox, Cochise, Arizona in 1940
Managed by: Scott Christopher Swingle
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Don Lynwood Riggs

Donald Lynwood Riggs was born May 27, 1908. He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. His headstone reads "Happiness His Gift to Us". His service start date was December 4, 1943. Don died April 23, 2001, at the age of 92, and was buried May 7, 2001 at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona located at 23029 North Cave Creek Road, Phoenix, Arizona, 85024, Section 48, Site 427.

In the 1940 U.S. Federal Census for Willcox, Cochise, Arizona, Don, 31, was living with his wife, Verona Whiting Robinson Riggs, 27, and their daughters, Prieta Dawn Riggs, 6, Erdis Ray, 5, Winnie Marie Riggs, 1, and Sandra Veon Riggs, 4 months old. Don was working as the owner/manager of a tourist court. They owned their own home located at 125 Haskell Avenue, which was valued at $1,500. Don had completed two years of college.

His daughter Prieta Dawn Riggs was attending the Phoenix College in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1954, and was shown in their yearbook on the Drama page and several other pages. The copy on the Drama page reads:

"Headed by John Paul, the drama department has been locally recognized for its fine productions year after year. This year, the drama department presented "All My Sons" and the George Bernard Shaw comedy "Androcles and the Lion." The PC thespians presented "Androcles" December 3-5. Doug McGrath played the title role in grand style and was supported superbly by Claude Jones and Bob Adams. "All My Sons" was presented March 26 with Jones, Betty Palmer, Henry Balloni, and Dawn Riggs heading the cast. Masque and Dagger set a new precedent this year by producing the play, "Light Up The Sky," through the medium of "theatre in the round." It was the first such performance in the valley."

Dawn was shown in a few photos from the Drama Club's productions in this same yearbook, and she was also shown on a page depicting the cheerleaders. On that page, the description reads, "Always a cheerful smile and peppy kick, these gayly clad girls in blue and gold added spirit and vitality to P.C.'s basketball and football games. Under the direction of their sponsor, Miss Imogene Farris, they performed their routines with precision and rhythmic timing. They accompanied the football team to Ontario, California, where they danced for the Chaffey Junior College game. During the basketball season, they accompanied the basketball team to Tucson for the U.of A. frosh game. These girls with swishing blue and gold pom poms were an incentive to their team to win and an illustrious example of P.C.'s school spirit. Dawn was pictured in the front row on the far right in the photo.

Dawn was again shown on a page of the yearbook featuring the sophomore class officers, and under the second semester officers, left to fright, front row is "Dawn, secretary". She was a very cute girl in her turtle neck sweater, tweed skirt, saddle shoes and bobby socks. Again, Dawn was pictured on the Sandprints Staff page, and the copy mentions that she helped on paste-up and typing, and that she flashes her every-ready smile. It's another very cute picture of Dawn!

Two years later, another of Don and Velda's daughters, Erdis, was shown in the Arizona State University yearbook, the Sahuaro, in 1956. In the head shot of Erdis she has very bleached blonde hair.

Prior to this, Erdis was attending Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in 1953, and in the picture of her shown on the Freshmen page, her hair looks much more natural and appears to be a dark blonde color. She has a nice smile and pretty eyes. On another page from the same yearbook entitled "Cougarettes", Erdis was pictured and the copy reads as shown below. There is another very pretty picture of her, with dark blonde hair and a great smile. I think she is easily the prettiest girl on the page.

"The Cougarettes, a popular campus organization composted of selected freshman girls. Established to promote school spirit and enthusiasm, these attractive girls furnished half-time entertainment for football and basketball games. Homecoming parade was made more colorful with their snappy routines, and several exchanges were held to acquaint them with members of other campus units."

Prior to her college days, Erdis attended Phoenix Union High School, and in 1952 was was pictured in the yearbook as a member of the Coyote Rotary Club. They were having their Rotary Speech Contest and the topic was "How Can We Preserve Our Freedoms?" There is another picture of Erdis on a page about the Drama Club in which she was featured in a play called "Aaron Slick," so it appears she was also a thespian like her sister, Dawn.

The next Riggs sister, Wynne, was also involved in a school production. There was a picture of her featured in the 1955 yearbook for West Phoenix High School. The caption with the photo reads, "Wynne Riggs entertained the audience with her tale of a countryfied courtship and marriage in the Sophomore class assembly." Wynne was also involved in the girls Acappella Choir and was pictured there with the group. She was also pictured on the page of freshmen for the year 1954 and was also a very cute girl like her sisters.

In the 1960 Sahuaro Yearbook for Arizona State University, the youngest Riggs sister, Sandra Veon, was pictured with her class. She looks a lot like her sisters, except she was wearing eye glasses in her photo. There was another photo of Sandra in the 1956 Willcox High School yearbook where she was 16 years old and was also a very cute girl.

From the Deseret News, June 28, 1969, Don Lynwood Riggs was mentioned as being first counselor to Ray Michael Brown, Bishop of the San Diego, California, 12th ward. The article continued...."Pres. Riggs was born May 27, 1908, in Snowflake, Arizona, a son of Don Frederick and Mary Riggs. He married Anne Pearson of Washington, D.C., and they have seven children. He has served the Church as YMMIA and Sunday School superintendent, a president of a quorum of seventy, stake mission president and bishop's counselor. He is employed by National Capitol Life Insurance Company." NOTE: I'm not sure this is the same Don Lynwood Riggs, since the above copy mentions a wife named Anne Pearson, and I don't think he ever had a wife by that name.

Don Riggs' wife Verona passed away August 6, 1967, in Glendale, Los Angeles County, California and was buried in Saint Johns Cemetery in Saint Johns, Apache County, Arizona. He married Mary Lewis in 1992. She lived to be over 102 years old per an article about her dated November 15, 2013, in the East Valley Tribune. That article follows below:

Long ago, Mary Lewis Riggs helped create an Arizona landmark. Today, Riggs, who turned 102 years old this summer, is considered somewhat of a Mesa landmark herself. Born on June 27, 1911, she married Chester Lewis in California during 1933. Together, they had eight children, two of whom are now deceased.

In 1950, when the couple was living in Holbrook, Arizona, Lewis felt it was a perfect place where travelers would enjoy stopping and sleeping in a 30-by-16-foot concrete teepee. He bought the rights to the design and built the Wigwam Motel.

The Holbrook motel was closed in 1974, and Lewis died in 1986. However, his widow and children still believed in Lewis’ dream, restored and reopened the 15 rooms in 1988, and continue to operate it today.

Located along what was once Route 66, where it beckons to tourists and nostalgia buffs, The Wigwam Motel has been a familiar landmark for more than 60 years.

“The Wigwam Motel is a national historic site. It’s always been in our family, and my mother is the one who is really responsible for making sure that happened,” said her son, John Lewis.

After Chester’s passing in 1986, Mary married Don Lynwood Riggs in 1992. He died about nine years later. Today, Mary has 36 grandchildren, more than 90 grandchildren and an increasing number of great, great grandchildren.

Her son called his mother’s service and dedication “monumental,” and, yet, he said, she would just as soon be referred to as “Mrs. Anonymous,” and not have the attention focused on her. He adds that just as she did with the Wigwam, his mother deserves credit for preserving much of their family history and what their family holds dear. And, that is precisely why he chose to help her celebrate her 102nd birthday this summer by taking her back to a place of their Mormon pioneer heritage, Nauvoo, Illinois.

Riggs’ first great-grandfather, Joseph Leland Heywood, was in Nauvoo when he and the Mormon pioneers were driven out of that area and traveled across the country to settle in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Heywood later became the first U.S. Marshall of Utah. Riggs’ first great-grandmother, Martha Spence, was the subject of the book about the pioneers, “Not by Bread Alone.” Riggs also is related Levi Savage, who was known for his bravery and kindness on the pioneer trail and whose son, Levi Mathers Savage, was an LDS bishop in Woodruff, Arizona, for 25 years.

Lewis has been his mother’s caregiver for the past seven years. “I just felt like the trip to Nauvoo was something that needed to be accomplished,” he said. “Some of our ancestors were there in Nauvoo, and I felt like it was important to go back and take mother for her birthday.” In June, they flew into St. Louis, rented a car and drove to Keokuk, Iowa, 12 miles outside of Nauvoo, where they stayed in a hotel. Lewis knew that traveling with a centenarian could be challenging; yet, “Everything worked out so well,” he said. “The good Lord was really with us all of the way.”

In addition to seeing the restored historic sites in Nauvoo, Lewis made arrangements for him and his mother to attend the LDS Temple there. “Going to the temple has always been important to my mother,” he said. “She is such a spiritual person; she has always had a testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that’s what she radiates.”

Until she fell last year, Riggs was attending the temple in Mesa every day that it was open. Today, in addition to taking daily “walks” around the temple, with Lewis pushing her in her wheelchair; and, she has now recovered enough that they are able to attend together two or three times a week. “When it comes to spiritual things, she never gets enough. She is hungry for it,” Lewis said. Riggs agreed, saying, “The temple brings you closer to God. It’s the best place in the world to be.”

Back in Mesa, she enjoys her daily, and she loves going out for Mexican food, especially at Matta’s.

Lewis said it has been a privilege to work as her caregiver.

“I owe someone big time for giving me her as a mother,” Lewis said. “She is a little dynamo, just a little precious thing. I get much more from caring for her than I am ever able to give. It’s a pleasure and a privilege.”

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Don Lynwood Riggs's Timeline

May 27, 1908
Snowflake, Navajo, Arizona, USA
April 23, 2001
Age 92
Utah County, Utah, USA
Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona, USA