WEST MIDDLESEX, Pennsylvania (MyValleyTributes) – Duane Lee Riggs was born on April 1, 1925 in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania and died on Monday, October 26, 2020 at the age of 95.
He was the son of Duane Leander Riggs and Arlene Boyles Riggs and is survived by his son, Duane Lee Riggs III and his wife, Lenel Webber Riggs, of Canyon Lake, Texas; his daughter, Elizabeth Riggs Hancock and her husband, David C. Hancock, of Livingston, Texas; granddaughter, Christie Hancock-Jones of Livingston, Texas; grandson, Cody Hunter Riggs of Houston, Texas; great-grandchildren, Emily Margaret Jones, Abigail Lee Jones, Landry Walker Riggs and Bryce William Riggs; sister, Marilynn Riggs Dull of Fredonia, Pennsylvania and brother, Donald A. Riggs of Gainesville, Florida.
Duane Riggs led an interesting life with many adventures and experiences, starting with being raised during the Great Depression. When WWII broke out, he attended high school and worked nights at the steel mill to aid the war effort. He still graduated second in his class. At age 17, he volunteered for the Army Air Corps (as it was called then), earned his flying wings and became a Navigator and Bombardier on a B-29 Flying Fortress.
He met his future wife, Betsy Madeline Antee in flight training when he was stationed in San Angelo, Texas. She was pretty, charming, witty, and very classy. He was smitten with this Southern Belle. After the War ended, they were married and moved to Texas, where Riggs worked in the oil fields and went to school at night.
When the Korean War started, he was called back up by the Air Force and he saw combat action in Korea with B-29 bombers and was awarded the Air Medal for distinguished, outstanding achievements.
After Korea, back to Texas and the oil fields and more night school. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Accounting and became a CPA. He also attended Pre-Med school at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. He was also a pioneer in Computer Technology back when a mainframe computer used vacuum tubes and took up an entire room.
Riggs’ diverse skills came in handy in his future career in Hospital Finance, along with his knowledge of German, which he learned from the Amish farmers in his home town. Riggs loved to hunt and the Amish allowed him to hunt on their farms and he would share the meat with them. He liked to hunt and they liked to teach him German. When he began applying for accounting positions, he was hired by a group of Catholic Hospitals which were run by an order of German nuns. They liked his credentials, that he was Catholic and the fact that he could speak some German. Over the years, Riggs worked for Catholic Hospitals in Peoria, Illinois, Miles City, Montana, Lafayette, Louisiana and in Michigan.
Riggs also worked for Imperial Sugar in Texas and while there, he attended Law School at night and became an Attorney. He had the second highest score on the Bar Exam in Texas. His education in accounting, computers, and the law earned him a job offer from the FBI but Riggs decided there was more money to be made in the private sector and declined.
There was one common thread throughout the life of Duane L. Riggs. He loved his family, he loved to learn, he loved to hunt and fish and he loved to eat good food. He loved the food in Louisiana and learned to cook a mean pot of gumbo. He also learned a little French and Spanish there and became a licensed hypnotist and ham radio operator. He made an antenna out of a cookie sheet and stuck wires to it with alligator clips and could talk to other ham radio enthusiasts as far away as Australia.
Riggs always loved Pennsylvania and returned to live the last 30 years of his life there.
He requested no funeral, only a Catholic Mass to be said for him and his remains to be shipped back to his children in Texas.
What a life well lived!
Arrangements entrusted to the Sherman Funeral Home & Crematory.
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