Robert Williams Rigg, Sr. – Memories by his daughter, Jill Rigg Johnson

Bob Rigg, Sr. with baby Jill

Bob Rigg, Sr. with baby Jill

Click here for photo gallery of Robert W. Rigg, Sr.

I well remember when I went away to college and started sharing dorms and apartments with friends. As we talked about our homes and families, it hit me for the first time that I was raised in a home that was like no other. I actually started to downplay and not tell about my amazing childhood, because no one I met could even come close to having the experiences nor the parents like mine. My dad had a passion for living that was infectious.

Passion for his family

Dad with Bob, Bill, Jill, Julie, Sarah, JeffDad, Robert W. Rigg, Sr., wanted us to experience things, and we had many big adventures. But I also loved the small activities – Family Home Evenings, driving down to A & W to get rootbeer floats, or a Dilly Bar at Dairy Queen … taking drives and hikes up on the Monument or on Grand Mesa … the family dinners at Far East Café… all the family activities and picnics and fishing with grandparents. Christmas at our home was always a production and filled with great memories. And I loved singing around the piano, or in community productions with him.

One of my favorites was when he would gather all six of us children, wrap his arms around us and try to lift us all at one time. I remember many warm hugs.
His passion for family included a love for family history and a passion for our heritage. That passion definitely infected me, and we’ve had so many tender moments exploring our heritage together. He took countless photos and videos of his family – which was not as common in that era, but a great treasure to us now. Another passion which definitely reached me.

Passion for the outdoors

You’ve been hearing about some of the adventures — rivers, Lake Powell trips, horses, and mountains. As I’ve raised children of my own, I can’t imagine how he pulled off all the logistics of trucks, equipment, horses, food, and travel.

Oct27_53-EditHe loved skiing and we were the first people on the lift and the last ones off. He loved skiing straight down a steep mountain. There was something magical about being able to follow him and ski right in his tracks – somewhat of a metaphor for so many areas of his life, wanting to follow him and be like him.


This was a major family activity, and I always loved it, until about college age when I realized I really did not like shooting deer or elk, but I just loved being with my dad.
I was 13 years old the first time I actually shot a deer. There was snow on the ground. I remember not supporting the rifle well against my shoulder and so the scope smashed my nose and around my eye when the gun recoiled. My eyes teared up, not so much because of the pain from the recoil, but from having killed an animal. Of course it was important to him to teach me how to gut it, and I remember it being on a snowy/icy slope and so I was slipping and crying while I had to stick my hands in and pull out the ~guts, and at the same time he were giving me an anatomy lesson identifying all the organs.

Then there was the time I was sitting in class at Grand Junction High School and a note was delivered to my teacher that I was to report to the school nurse’s office. I went down and found my dad standing there talking to the nurse. He told the nFH020017urse I was sick and needed to go home. I kept quiet and walked outside to find he had the blue GMC loaded with rifles for us to head up to the Bookcliffs to go hunting for the day — just him and me. Once up there, we were plodding along slowly on a bumpy dirt road when we came around a bend and there was a buck just by the road on his side of the truck. Not wanting to scare it away by opening the doors, he had me aim the 2-70 right in front of his face and out the window. I remember him plugging his ears as I fired, and the sound was awful as it reverberated in that small space. That one incident probably contributed significantly to future hearing problems. That was a special day with my dad.

In a lot of our outdoor adventures, things didn’t always go right – weather could turn bad, or situations could become extra challenging. He taught us to overcome them. If we had an extremely difficult and steep slope to climb, he taught us to get out of the saddle and hold the horse’s tail as it pulled us up. He taught us to whistle and sing through scary times and storms.

He taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to.

Passion for service – thinking of others

I’m sure many here have been recipients of his extreme generosity. It is legend.

I worked in his medical office from the time I was 12 until I graduated from high school. That was my personal special time with him, and I loved it – even though there were occasional stern reprimands that left me in tears a few times when I hadn’t completed a task that needed to be done.
He worked so hard, and was a constant example of graciousness with patients and employees. And I learned much by watching him be sensitive to those patients who were without means, and it startled me to see how many people you wrote n/c (no charge) on their chart. One of my favorite experiences was being able to attend a cataract surgery with him.

International humanitarian service

FH010044-EditBut he also “thought bigger” and reached out internationally, making generous cash donations, and my senior year in high school, my mom, Jeff and I joined him to fly down to a village in Yucatan, Mexico to do eye surgeries. I learned so much from him as I stood by him and watched him interact with others in that challenging circumstance. He also encouraged and supported me to work as a medical volunteer in Guatemala that same summer.

That heritage gave me a base to participate in many projects over the years and now my children have all learned to think of the world community and carry on this great heritage.

My brother, Bill

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 8.30.36 PMMay I take a minute to recognize my next older brother Bill, William Orchard Rigg, at this point, who passed away in 1976.

Bill and I were so close in age that we were actually in the same grade. We kind of looked alike and our names were similar, so many people thought we were twins — which I didn’t mind at all.

Bill adored Dad, and followed him everywhere. Dad always called him “my Billy Boy.” They definitely shared a passion for the outdoors, and Bill became an outstanding horseman and cowboy, and was an incredible shot – which I’m sure he would attribute to Dad’s tutelage.

Regrettably, Bill’s not here to pay tribute at this time, but hopefully they have met and embraced on the other side.

Dad, I love you

My dad worked hard, he played hard, he loved deeply. I will miss his warmth, passion, and love – and so look forward to seeing him again.
Dad, thank you for your energy, your enthusiasm for life, your generosity and support. Thanks for making me feel like your “darling, dumpling, daughter.” Dad, I love you.IMG_2703 - Version 2

One Response

  1. Sarah Walton says:

    Very nice!

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