Richard E. Riggs

August 23, 2020


Richard Edwin Riggs, 76, traded his $300 violin for a harp on August 23, 2020. He was born in Tacoma to Edwin Morris Riggs and Lillian Margaret Skjerlie on November 21, 1943. Graduated Lincoln High School in Tacoma in 1961 and received his doctorate in education from Columbia University in New York in 1994.

Born the son of a garbageman, Rich decided to take a different career route. He found a love for music after his mother purchased violin lessons from a door-to-door salesman for him when he was five years old.

Rich moved to Yakima in September, 1966 where he was a music teacher for the Yakima School District for 33 years while also teaching private lessons at several local music stores. He was a founding member of the group that would become the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, a member of the Yakima String Quartet, numerous dance bands in the Yakima Valley throughout the years and so much more. In the late autumn of his life he would regularly perform in front of the Capitol Theatre before live events to entertain people waiting in line.

After retirement he enjoyed visiting Hawaii. He would take his violin with him to perform on a street corner and whatever tips he made, that’s what funded his vacation. He did this for 20 years in a row, inviting the rest of his family to join him as well.

The day before Rich’s passing he asked his wife to help him into another room where he claimed his musician friends were waiting for him and they couldn’t start without him. It was heaven’s waiting room with his friends anticipating his arrival.

Rich is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, seven children, 11 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and countless exhausted music students; all whom he loved dearly and have been helping keep music alive in Yakima and beyond with generations to follow.

Rich is laid to rest at West Hills Memorial Park. There will be a memorial service at a later date. In lieu of flowers, do an act of kindness in his name.

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