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Ralph H. Riggs

Ralph H. Riggs

Ralph Harbert Riggs, 80, of Talent, died Tuesday, June 27, 2006 at his residence. Private inurnment will be in Eagle Point National Cemetery, Eagle Point, Ore.

Mr. Riggs was born in Chicago, Ill. in 1926. His dad, Harbert, Sr., worked as a ticket seller for the Illinois Central Railroad. Tuberculosis was running rampant in the country in the 1930s and was to affect Ralph's life eventually. He attended Oglesby Grammar School up to the 4th grade, when he was admitted to the Morgan Park Military Academy. Ralph traveled to & from school by train, choosing not to board at the academy as so many young men did. He left the academy after graduation from the 8th grade and entered St. Rita's Catholic High School for his freshman year. Then, due to his dad's failing health and diagnosis of tuberculosis, the family was sent to Albuquerque, N.M.; living with tuberculosis required dry, warm weather, but after one year, the altitude proved too high for his dad's heart, so they left New Mexico for Pottengers, a well-known sanitarium in Monrovia, Calif.

Ralph had completed his sophomore year in Albuquerque's Center of Town High School but entered class of 1944 at MAD (Monrovia, Arcadia, and Duarte). Getting to know all new friends in your junior year is not easy, as we all know; though he played all sports well in Illinois, earning many letters, he did not go out for sports in Monrovia. He did however get jobs as an usher at Monrovia's Leric Theatre and as a soda jerk at a popular drug store, making it possible for him to have his own car in high school. He joined the Army Air Corp in December of 1944, unable to complete his senior year because he was called to duty, leaving in January. He doesn't know yet why; he wasn't needed, especially by then! Ralph was stationed in Bozeman, Mont.; Merced, Calif.; Lake Field, Ariz.; Pecos, Texas; and Amarillo, Texas, where he was discharged in 1945.

Ralph attended Pasadena City College for a year and a half, studying engineering and architectural drawing. He built one house in Monrovia across from the Monrovia Tennis Club. As a carpenter in San Gabriel Valley he helped build the Westerner Motel, a bank in Arcadia, old Quinn's Restaurant in Pasadena, remodeled the old Sunset Magazine Building in Los Angeles and the Culver City Golf Club (which is now a subdivision).

Ralph met Jane Linder at a surprise birthday party of a mutual friend in Altadena, Calif. Dating from 1945 to 1947, well into her nursing years at St. Vincent's Catholic Hospital on Third and Alvarado in Los Angeles, he asked her to marry him half way through a three-year course. The ceremony was held at the Church of the Ascension in Sierra Madre on an autumn afternoonand they celebrated 57 years in 2005.

Ralph had a long (31 years) career in retailing with Sears Roebuck & Co. He managed departments in Pasadena, Los Angeles & Cerritos, Calif. He was president of Sears Federal Credit Union and the Board of Sears Credit; he also served as United Way Chairman for Sears.

Before leaving Monrovia in 1976, Jane returned to nursing for two years; first at Arcadia Methodist Hospital and secondly at Santa Teresita Hospital. The Riggs' then moved to Newport's Lido Peninsula. Five years were spent in a life style very much enjoyed. Jane worked at Costa Mesa Hospital and Huntington Intercommunity Hospital. Jane's last department was obstetrics and delivery, a happy and satisfying kind of work.

The Riggs raised four wonderful children; Harbert Bryant Riggs II (named for his Granddad); Kimberly Anne Riggs (Murray); Randolf Victor Riggs; and Mayda Elizabeth Riggs. Grandchildren numbered nine for years, as they lost a 17 year old grandson, Christopher, to asthma. Today there are three great-grandchildren: Miles, Isabel and Darren Nix.

Ralph and Jane visited Ashland many times before moving permanently. Buying property in 1980 while visiting friends over Thanksgiving, they moved in February of 1981. To insure those golden years, they opened a new kind of businessThe Mail Stop across from Southern Oregon College. It was a mail service, and new in Oregon. For about seven years it was the only such business. Franchising eventually moved into the business and the rest is history. The Mail Stop was a Mom & Pop business and more to Ashland's liking. In 2001 they sold to Gina Kushima, who is friendly and accommodating, a good choice by Ralph. It was a wonderful 21 years working as man and wife. Those were the Golden Years.

A stroke in 1985 caused Ralph to slow down, and in the 1990s signs of small strokes did cause dementia and Ralph's gradual decline. Home care by Jane in the Talent Mountain View Estates continued well into a fifth year. Interred at Eagle Point National Cemetery, he is at rest.

Ralph's love and hobby for many years was flying out of Ashland's small airport in his Ultra Light plane. Noisy and open, he loved it. He would fly over his triplex apartment on Seventh Street, passing over a couple of times until spotting Jane on the deckhe would tip his wings to her.

Ralph joined Medford's Southern Oregon Chapter of E. A. A. and was off to find downed planes when called. He enjoyed the view from on high over the Rogue Valley, the mountains and the little patchwork colorful towns. He would fly between Ashland and the Illinois Valley and met many interesting, air-minded souls like himself. He had many good years in the Northwest Paradise.

Arrangements: Litwiller-Simonsen Funeral Home, Ashland.

Ralph H. Riggs