Riggs, Leo Bates

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Riggs, Leo Bates

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1879-1956

History

Leo Bates Riggs was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1879 to William Bates Riggs and Mary Riggs (nee Nelson). He studied piano and organ in Toronto under a variety of prominent masters. He was then appointed organist and director of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Belleville, Ontario. In 1901, he accepted a position as organist and director of the First Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he taught piano and organ at the Central College of Music in Indianapolis, Indiana. That same year, on August 28th, he married Mabel Kathleen Deguerre, a graduate of the Toronto Conservatory of Music. She was director of the Vocal Department of Albert College in Belleville, Ontario, and after their marriage she joined her husband on the staff of the Central College of Music, in Indianapolis, Indiana, teaching voice. In 1903, their only child, Leona Riggs, was born.
In 1909, the family moved to New York City where Leo Bates Riggs became chief organist and director of music at the Astor Hotel. He performed in concerts throughout New York, and was among the first organ artists to be broadcast over the radio station WBC, New York.
In 1924, he and his wife returned to Belleville, Ontario so that he could assist his ailing father, William Bates Riggs, in his automobile business. For many years, Leo Bates Riggs successfully maintained the Riggs Garage until his retirement in 1954.
Continuing his musical career in Belleville, Leo Bates Riggs became the organist at John the Baptist Church until it burned down in 1936. Leo Bates Riggs also preformed for many Belleville clubs and organizations, as well as belonging to the Rotary Club, and the Kiwanis Club. He was also the president of the Chamber of Commerce, in Belleville, Ontario, for a brief period of time.
Leo Bates Riggs died at his summer residence in St. Petersburg, Florida on January 23rd, 1956, and was buried in the city of Belleville, Ontario.

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