May 3, 1872 - April 18, 1964
|Samuel Leonidas Riggs was born in New Iberia, Louisiana, May 3, 1872, the son of Samuel 0. Riggs and Sarah E. Frend. He was descended from John Riggs of Southampton, England, who came to America in 1649. His great-grandfather, Abraham Riggs, served in the American Revolution and was wounded at the Battle of Brandy-wine in 1777. In 1800 the family moved from Edenton, North Caro-lina, to Iberia Parish, Louisiana.
At the age of eleven both his father and mother died and he moved to Monroe to live with an older brother. Here he worked long and hard hours in the family “truck-farming” business, developing a love of gardening that was to last all his life. Thus, he earned early the lessons of adversity.
He attended Centenary College when it was located in Jackson, Louisiana, paying his way by cutting wood and managing the din-ing hail. In 1893 he served as president of the student body, beginning a tradition carried on by his son, Leonard, in 1928, and his grandson, Leonard, Jr., in 1964.
After graduation he attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and came back to Louisiana to do evangelistic work in the Crowley and Greydan areas of the state. It was while he was engaged in this work that he met Adah Olive Matthews of New Or-leans, a charming young lady and accomplished musician. They were married in 1905 and to them was born one son Leonard M. Riggs.
In 1902 he joined the Louisiana Conference and served the fol-lowing appointments: New Orleans Mission, 1902 - 04; DeRidder, 1904 - 06; Kentwood, 1906 - 08; St. Francisville, 1908 - 12; Oakdale, 1913; Selma, 1916; Bon Ami, 1917; Lake Arthur, 1917 — 20; Opelousas, 1920-24; Mooringsport, 1924-26; Cedar Grove, Shreveport 1926 - 28; superannuated 1928 because of ill health; Centenary Col-lege Book Store, 1929 - 45; Chaplain, Goodwill Industries, Shreveport, 1945 - 53.
As manager of the bookstore and post office at Centenary for fourteen years, “Brother” Riggs became the friend and spiritual adviser to hundreds of students, a living witness to them of the meaning of Christian character, goodness and love.
After a lingering illness he died on April 18, 1964 and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Shreveport. Dr. D. L. Dykes and Dr. B. R. Oliphint officiated for him:
The following prayer offered at his funeral sums up my remembrance and gratitude for him:
“For his unflagging devotion to the Master of his life; for his tireless energy in Christ’s Commission, and that unquenchable vitality that sprang not from nature only but far more from union with his living Lord; for his fundamental integrity and modesty and humility of heart; for the gallantry of his courage, the fortitude of his faith; for the exuberance of his Christian conviction, the exhilaration of his Christian companionship, and the “wonder, love and praise” that made his daily ‘Christian witness lyrical with gratitude; for all this we give Thee thanks.
For all his preaching and his pastorate; for all the weary ones he has refreshed, and lonely ones he has comforted; for all the doubting ones he brought through to faith; for all who are better men and women today because he cross-ed their path—O God, we give Thee thanks.
To Thee alone, 0 God, are known all the nameless, unre-corded and uncounted deeds of love and kindness which he wrought; the helping hand so freely given to others In
trouble and distress. And in as much as death has no dominion over him, Thou wilt use him still in Thy glad service, where in thy presence there is fullness of joy.”
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 258-260, 1964 by Ben Oliphant.|