Short History of Raymond David Riggs
Contributor: SouthPawPhilly Created: 11 months ago Updated: 11 months ago
History of Raymond David Riggs (1964-1999)
Composed by his father and read at his funeral.
Raymond David Riggs was born April 15, 1964, in Mesa, Arizona, the fifth son of Bob and Hazel Dawn Riggs. He did not live in Mesa long. In August of that year his family moved to Minnesota where he spent eleven happy years.
At birth he came with a badly twisted right foot, and he arrived in Minnesota with his foot in a cast. After the cast was removed he was fitted with a Dennis Brown splint that his mother faithfully put on in the morning and took off each night for months. His two straight feet are a witness to his mother’s patience and the doctor’s skill.
His mother’s patience and care also helped him overcome another birth handicap. Like his oldest brother Robert, he was born dyslexic which made it very difficult for him to learn to read because some letters could not be easily distinguished from others. From kindergarten onward she read with him daily, for most of his school years in Minnesota, until the proper recognition patterns were established.
The Minnesota years were happy years, with friends in the neighborhood and at church, good teachers at the Meadowbrook School, and fun with the family. Some of the best times were hiking, camping, and canoeing in nearby streams and lakes. He also enjoyed Park Board football and baseball and was very good at it. In the fourth grade his teacher had each member of his class prepare an original coat of arms and inscribe the design on a small shield crafted from a thin piece of sheet metal. On his shield, along with a rocket and some now indecipherable drawings, Raymond etched the words, “Strong, Brave, Nice.”
In his first and only year at Westmore Elementary School in Orem, he was chosen from his sixth grade class to receive the “Hope of America” award given each year to a boy and a girl for leadership, ethical and moral character, and academic accomplishment. By his eighth grade year at Lakeridge Jr. High School, he had earned an Eagle Scout award, an accomplishment also owing much to the loving persistence of his mother.
He attended Orem High School for his sophomore year, with junior and senior years at the newly opened Mountain View High School. He wrestled at both Orem and Mountain View and was on the Mountain View soccer team for two years. In his senior year the Mountain View team won the Utah state soccer championship. Two excerpts from his journal tell something about those events. In February 1980 he wrote:
"My whole family came to see my wrestling match. Well, at least the ones living at home. That really meant a lot to me and I love them a lot. Especially my parents because they do a lot for me. I have been yelling at my mom a lot lately. I am going to work on not doing it so much.”
And in May 1982:
"We played Orem High for the state championship in soccer. It was held at 6:30 at Woods Cross High School. We Won!! I can’t believe it. This is one of the greatest moments of my life...I just kept hugging Grossen and shaking peoples hands.”
Carl Grossen, who will speak today [at the funeral] was on that team, along with Paul Parker and Kent Savage, who honor Raymond today as his pall bearers.
One more thought from that same page. Speaking of other team members Raymond wrote, “We also had Tim Molder and Mike Copa. Mike wasn’t a member of the Church but he is getting baptized. I hope I had some influence on him for the good.” We know Raymond and his good friends had a great influence on each other for good. While I may not remember them all, I have special memories of Carl and Paul and Kent and Kline Bradford and Craig Ashcroft. No one had better friends.
Here is another entry of June 27, 1982, the summer after his high school graduation. “The big event in my life this week was my Timpanogas adventure. Paul Parker, his brother Matt and me climbed the face of Timp, slept on the very top, then skied down the back side the next day.” After describing it in great detail, he concluded: “It was a great adventure. A highlight whenever I think of Adventures. The marathon and this – rate right in the top for hard, strenuous and mentally tough feats that not too many people would ever do.”
The previous fall Raymond, Rodney and I had run the St. George Marathon together, about three weeks after Rodney returned from his mission to Japan. I remember the morning before the race, dark, chilly and damp, with hundreds of runners milling about waiting for the race to begin. In the dark Raymond stumbled and gashed his hand on a piece of barbed wire just before the start of the race. He took off with the rest of the runners, but just a few miles down the road it was bleeding so badly he stopped at a first aid station to have it bandaged. Then he joined the race again, gave it his best, and came in ahead of Rodney (who had only three weeks to train). Raymond loved the challenge.
Raymond’s high school grades were good enough for a half scholarship to BYU, and he attended summer, fall and winter terms before leaving for the Florida-Tallahassee Mission in June. Initially he was disappointed with the call because four brothers before him had served foreign missions. But for him, as for every conscientious missionary, it turned out to be the greatest mission in the Church. Raymond was called to serve for eighteen months, as was Church policy then, but four days before Raymond’s scheduled release date the Church changed the policy and allowed those in the field the option of extending to two years or returning as originally planned. Raymond had planned to be home early in December, in time to be best man at his brother Rodney’s wedding reception. He was then serving as Assistant to the Mission President. After agonizing and praying, he decided to extend and stay in the mission field because he thought it was the right thing to do. It was a rewarding time. As he wrote in one of his last letters home, “It’s just so great to be on a mission and see people change their lives and embrace the gospel. It brings me so much joy to see them. There is nothing like a mission.”
That was 1985. In two more years, by attending college around the calendar, he was able to graduate in August 1987 with a degree in History, just in time to enroll in the J. Reuben Clark Law School. That was an eventful summer. His parents were in London on professional development leave, and he joined them in late June and July for a tour of Britain and western Europe. They were all home in time for August graduation, and for the most important event of all, his Temple marriage to Laurie Lynn Hunter.
Raymond finished law school in the regulation three years, and he and Laurie moved to Arizona where he was able to obtain a clerkship with a state appellate court judge. From there he went to a Mesa law firm headed by two previous BYU graduates, Eric Jackson and Rich White. He later joined his brother Russel in the practice of law in Mesa. During this time three children were born to Raymond and Laurie–Hunter in 1992, Amanda in 1993, and Harrison in 1997.
For the most part these were good years. Raymond and Laurie bought a home in Gilbert, Arizona, where Raymond was soon called as Elders Quorum President and five months later as a counselor in his ward Bishopric. Raymond did not always enjoy the practice of law, but he always liked the people he worked with. They loved their ward and made many new friends, while still keeping contact with many friends from former days.
During the last year in Arizona, some professional and personal problems developed, and the little family moved to Utah where Raymond obtained a position as in-house legal counsel and sales and marketing executive with a company engaged in telephone services. He remained in this line of work until his death.
I had a call Wednesday evening from Raymond’s mission president, extending his love and sympathy. After we had briefly discussed the circumstances of Raymond’s death, his parting words were something like this: “Tell your wife it was a privilege to have him in our mission. He was a great missionary, and we love him.”
Raymond came home one night In November 1999, lost consciousness, and never recovered. Jerry Ricks, who owns the company where Raymond worked, called repeatedly out of love and concern. “I hope I never get as close to another employee as I did to Raymond,” he said, because he was so devastated by the tragedy. Many, many others have called to offer their sympathy to us and to express their love for Raymond. Kind words are to be expected at a time like this, but Hazel Dawn and I have been warmed, almost overcome, by the outpouring of love for Raymond.
That, perhaps, is the fitting end for this life sketch. He loved his family and friends, and they loved him. But this is not the end of his story–only of this chapter. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” On the faith of that promise we look forward to more glorious life chapters for Raymond, and for all of us.
May we rejoice in this hope, I pray, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.