Ricky Lee 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 Hemingway 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.
Ricky wanted to die at home, which he did on Monday July 1st. Per one of his last requests there will be ‘good old-fashioned Irish wake’ at Little Plum Place (old Lutheran Church) on Friday night next, July 12th from 5 to 8pm. Swing by Little Plum Place, listen to some gospel music, grab a bite to eat, there will be Southern Sweet Tea and pecan pie-two of Ricky’s favorites. Share a story, sit a spell, and let’s celebrate the life of Ricky Lee Riggins.
Please note: Still working on hosting a traditional memorial service at Lund Mission Covenant Church. I just couldn’t pull things together before this week’s paper deadline. That will be announced next week.


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