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Ricky L Riggins

Ricky L Riggins

Ricky Lee Riggins is Dead….Well Piss! (You need not be offended by a phrase often used by Ricky to express his displeasure with common day occurrences like stubbing a toe to major losses, like the death of a loved one.)

                By Debra Fisher

                How else do I announce this loss? I dislike obituaries. Summing up a persons life in a few short paragraphs, while smoothing out the rough spots and often glossing over the truth. Here goes.

                Ricky Lee Riggins was born October 29, 1952 in Odon, Indiana. He was the oldest of the three children of Oral (PeeWee) and Jean Riggins. Ricky was a farm kid. His grandmother lived nearby, and he would spend countless hours with his Mee-maw. ‘I was her little pet pig,’ Ricky used to say. “My Mee-maw loved me more than my own mother.”

                A childhood accident would leave Ricky blind in one eye. (He was the poster child for ‘blind in one eye-can’t see out of the other). Having to wear glasses from early on didn’t stop Ricky from taking up the sport of hunting. His days of a hunter started young (8 or 9), when he asked his father about shooting moles and raccoons who were devastating the truck patch of vegetables. The shooting lesson was short. Little Ricky sighted in and killed three moles within minutes, not wasting time or ammo. Papa PeeWee simply said, “well don’t shoot yourself or anybody else, you’ll be fine.” And then his father headed back to the house.

                In his teenage years Ricky was bold, brash, stubborn beyond belief and somewhat impulsive. “Mary was the prettiest girl I ever saw.”  Like most teenagers driven by a heavy dose of hormones, Ricky succumbed to Mary’s beauty, and they became teenage parents. Unable to gain support from his parents, Ricky would forego a scholarship opportunity to Indiana University to work a series of jobs to support his young family. Wed young the marriage produced a daughter Angela (Angel) and a son Ricky Jr.   Ricky Sr.  worked as drywaller and as a gunsmith at a local gun shop. The couple grew up and apart -after 20 years together the marriage ended.

                The first divorce didn’t stop Ricky from marrying twice more. He landed in Vincennes, Indiana where he worked for CLR Transportation Company. Ricky was the Vice President of the company in charge of logistics as he scheduled trucks to haul bridge steel from Vincennes to states in the Midwest, including Iowa, Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin. He served that company for over 27 years, retiring in February of 2018. 

                Ricky served as the treasurer for the Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous for nearly 30 years. “Make money, don’t spend it,” was his mantra at every meeting as this group annually prepared for the single largest Revolutionary War history event in the Midwest. That is where I ran into Ricky Lee Riggins.

                I met Ricky in 2014 after I moved to Vincennes to work at Vincennes University at the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center. We kept bumping into each other at different events around town and after a year of hem-hawing around Riggins finally asked me out to dinner and to see a community theatre production in Princeton, Indiana. We have been inseparable since.

                Theatre was a huge part of Ricky’s life. He spent decades performing on stage at the Olde Towne Players community theater, did a couple of commercials and his crowning achievement was portraying Uncle Jazon in the world premiere of the musical ‘Alice of Old Vincennes,’ in May of 2016. “I always wanted to perform on the stage at the Red,” said Ricky. “So happy I had that experience.” One of his most memorable performances was a fundraiser for the Vincennes Library. ‘A Night with Earnest Hemmingway’.  One of Ricky’s favorite authors, portraying Hemmingway was a significant event for him.

The library became a second home to Ricky after his first divorce. A voracious reader throughout his life, he enjoyed historical narratives about the west, war and mysteries. After relocating to Pepin County, Ricky served as the representative to the IFLS Library system for the county until he could no longer do so.  He spent most of retirement reading, mowing the lawns at Little Plum Place or plowing snow. From time to time, you may have laid eyes on Mr. Riggins as he put on one of his many costumes to march in parades (or in the library) as a Leprechaun, Santa Clause or Uncle Sam. He portrayed Phillip Pfaff at the annual Cemetery Walk in Pepin.

                Ricky loved music, had a decent voice and was comfortable in front of people. It was the music that drew Ricky (and Debra) to Lund Mission Covenant Church where the couple would sing together. Ricky would often read scriptures at the Sunday morning worship service.  (Always well-rehearsed and with his best southern lilt).  It was Rick’s love of the Lord that brought me back into the fold after my divorce. A good deal of our first year of dating consisted of Ricky swinging by my house to pick me up for Sunday morning Church service in Vincennes, Indiana.

                Ricky and I bought Little Plum Place at the end of 2017, moved up to Wisconsin in February of 2018 and immediately began remodeling the old Lutheran Church into our present-day home. We spent many hours and days restoring and preserving the Little Plum School, where Ricky would often take a break from mowing lawn to guide people through the school and tell its history.

                Ricky had his first bout of cancer in 2014, before we met. In March of 2023 his cancer returned. We had a few good months celebrating his 71st birthday with the congregation of Lund Church in October and a wonderful Christmas with my family in 2023. Things soured in early February of 2024 and continued until his death.

                Here is some truth. Ricky wasn’t a great father, something he regretted his entire life. He wished he would have been a better husband and a little less stubborn with all his wives. I got the best of Ricky Lee Riggins. Version 4.0! We still had our moments, but by the time we built a life together he had learned to quickly apologize, forgive, move on and put love first.  Still, he was a stubborn old coot, who worried about sounding ‘too northern’ and losing his southern drawl. My family welcomed him into the fold. He often said, “Daddy Brian treats me better than my own father ever did.” It’s why Ricky will be cozying up with my dad in Daddy Brian’s plot.

                Ricky is survived by his life partner Debra Fisher. (What can I say? I didn’t want to be the 4th Mrs. Anything). His daughter Angel of San Diego, California. His son Ricky Lee Jr. of Odon, Indiana. His Sister Kim Williams and his brother Steve (Weasel) Riggins, his granddaughter Madelyn and his grandson Jesse- all residing in Indiana. Daddy Brian Lauer of Arkansaw, a would-be Brother-in-law David (Karen) Lauer of Arkansaw. And his dog Angus.

                Rhiel Funeral home is helping with the arrangements for his cremation. A private burial will be held for the family during his internment at the Arkansaw Memorial Cemetery that will be held at a later date. Please don’t send flowers. Rick would prefer a donation to one of the libraries in Pepin County instead. Cards to his family and Debra can be sent to Little Plum Place at W8851 County Road N., Pepin, WI 54759.

An Irish Wake will be held in Ricky’s honor at Little Plum Place (W8851 County Road N-7 miles north of Pepin) in the Old Lutheran Church on Friday, July 12 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.

A Memorial Gospel Concert featuring the Lorn and Royce Band will be held the following day, Saturday, July 13 at the Lund Mission Covenant Church. Visitation will be held 10:00-10:30 am. The concert will begin at 10:30 am. A potluck in the church fellowship hall will follow the concert.

Ricky will be interned at the Arkansaw Memorial Cemetery at a later date.

Rhiel Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Durand, is serving the family.

Condolences

  1. Barb

    A very good tribute. My Sympathy and Prayers for Rick. I once stopped when he was mowing the lawn. He stopped mowing and visited. It was a pleasure.

  2. Nikki

    Hi there I’m not exactly sure how I came about this beautiful obituary but I have to say it is indeed the best memorial piece I have ever read!they say I don’t know a stranger so here goes! I debated on sayin anything but I hope this helps you smile & ease your heartbreak just a little if that’s even possible. You did an amazing beautiful job on this little piece of telling his life!! Even tho I don’t know any of you I just want you to know I will be praying for you for all of you as you go through this terrible loss,he seemed like a arnory stubborn awesome loving old man,& as a nurse they are the ones I love! God Bless You all
    With love,????
    Nikki & family????????????????????????

  3. John Govin

    Never met either one of you but you sure write a great Obit.

  4. Scotty

    Was so sorry to hear of Rick,s passing ,he was one hell of a guy,he took me to Odon to buy my first gun ,also i did one play with him at the Vincennes olde town players,he was a far better actor than me,we also hung out at Market street pub for many years,he was great company,he will be sadly missed ,slange ricky,your old mate Scotty.

  5. Lori Gilles

    My heart is sad, but Ricky wouldn’t want that. Such a good, stubborn man. They sure don’t make them like him anymore. Hugs and prayers my friend!

  6. David klein

    Oh Rick during my short time knowing you through you coming into my store in Pepin we created a great friendship. Always great to hear your stories and I loved your "northern drawl". Now we can talk each day,will miss you.????

  7. Gary Olson

    Deb, you captured the essence of Ricky in your obituary. We were acting colleagues in Vincennes for 10 years and I was saddened to learn of his death. Condolences to you and his family. May your faith in our Lord comfort you as you grieve.

  8. Connie Huffine

    Many fond memories......."Rest in peace, dear friend"

    Connie Huffine

  9. Rachelle Irvin

    I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of Ricky. I started out at the OTP in 2009, a middle schooler, and Ricky was always so kind to me. I grew up at the OTP doing shows with all the “oldies” and became one of them. I watched his cat, Shani, a few times when he would go out of town. I’m blessed to have known him and to call him a friend. Sending so much love and prayers to your family. <3

  10. Anonymous

    Gus, I’ll miss you my friend! Hope you and Woodrow are together. Keep your powder dry!

    Love, Newt

  11. Patti Blount

    I'm so sorry to hear about the passing of Ricky. The obituary story was amazing and heartfelt. Sympathy to the family during this difficult time.

  12. Jim Duffy

    Ah, Ricky, you've led a good life lad! I will always cherish those times we spent together.
    "May you be in Heaven a half hour before the Devil knows you're dead"

  13. Jean Kannel

    A beautiful obit, Debra. I'm sure Ricky is lovin' it. So sorry for your and your family's loss.
    Jean Kannel

  14. Kelli

    Great memories to cherish Deb...he was always a delight to see entering the store...always upbeat and something unpredictable tossed out for conversation :)
    He will truly be missed here.

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