September 2, 1946 – March 29, 2020
“She was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.”
from “Funeral Blues” by W.H. Auden
“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10
Susan Beckingham Riggs, 73, passed away on Sunday, March 29, 2020, at Hudson Creek Alzheimer’s Special Care Center, in Bryan, Texas. She was born on Labor Day, September 2, 1946, to Donald R. and Gertrude Austin Beckingham in Utica, New York.
Sue was my loving wife and the devoted mother of our two children. She was my partner and my dearest friend. Ready at a moment’s notice to strike out on an adventure to see the Texas bluebonnets, sample the wines of the Hill Country, hoist a stein at Wurstfest in New Braunfels, watch a Fiesta parade in San Antonio, or wind our way through the backroads in a vintage Volkswagen bus.
The eldest of 10 children, Sue grew up in Old Forge, NY. While she was a good student, she apparently also enjoyed an active social life. A teacher bestowed the title “The Quaffs” on Susie and three of her girlfriends while seniors in high school. One of her favorite places was Raquette Lake where she made many fond memories with her cousins, but especially in her adult years visiting her aunt there. Sue earned her way through college working summers at the historic Rocky Point Inn, a traditional Adirondack resort, and she was the hostess in the main dining room her last year there.
After graduating from SUNY Potsdam she began her teaching career in Malone, NY, an economically depressed area 20 miles from the Canadian border. While there, a letter from a dear friend from Rocky Point, then in England, with her husband in the Air Force, enticed Sue to leave it all behind. “These handsome lieutenants and school teachers are having way too much fun over here,” said her friend. Sue applied to the Department of Defense to teach in the American schools overseas, was hired and assigned to Hanau, Germany. Ever the adventurer, in her six years in Germany, Sue travelled to the then USSR, Egypt and most of western Europe and Great Britain. A competent skier, she especially enjoyed skiing in the Alps. She also started flying lessons and passed her FAA Private Pilots written exam while there. Though she soloed she regretted not completing her training and getting her license. Sue also organized an annual sold out trip to one of the largest wine fests in Germany, the Würstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim.
While in Germany, she met her own “handsome lieutenant” and the love of her life, Lt. Allan Riggs, also stationed in Hanau. While still there, Sue planned their wedding in Big Moose, NY, long distance from Germany and Allan’s home in College Station, Texas. The young newlyweds made their first home in Angleton, Texas, and later settled in San Antonio.
Their children, Toby and Leah, came to Sue and Allan on September 29, 1986, at the ages of 5 and 3. Their first meal as a family was at a nearby McDonald’s. Allan ordered and brought the food to the table and as they began to eat, Toby grabbed Leah’s hand, bowed his head and began to pray, “God is great, God is good…” Sue and Allan followed suit. It was truly a family match made in heaven. Always the devoted parents, Sue and Allan cheered the kids on at countless swim meets, little league and soccer games. Their family life was full and enriched.
Sue was a master in the kitchen. According to Allan, “Her spaghetti sauce took three days to make and was well worth the wait.” Holidays were her forte and her favorite was Thanksgiving when the family would host two Air Force basic trainees through Lackland AFB’s “Operation Home Cooking” to a full, traditional dinner.
Once the children were grown and left home, Sue retired after a 32 year teaching career. Always a volunteer she increased her dedication to giving back. She volunteered with numerous organizations but notably Meals on Wheels, the Christian Assistance Ministry at her church, University United Methodist Church and was most proud of her work as a Volunteer In Policing (V.I.P.) with the San Antonio Police Department as a domestic violence counselor.
A member of the Bexar County Texas Master Gardeners, Sue loved making their yard beautiful. She enjoyed needlework and did numerous baby birth records for friends. A cherished image of Sue is her sitting on the sofa, working on a piece with her beloved cat, Sandy in her lap. A dedicated correspondent she kept Hallmark, American Greetings and Current in business through the years as she sent greeting cards for all of the family events as well as friends’ birthdays and anniversaries. A card from Sue was always a treasure.
In later years, Sue developed Alzheimer’s disease and Allan cared for her at home for two and a half years before moving her to College Station, to be closer to daughter Leah as well as Sue’s first grandchild, Wyatt, as well as their son Toby, in Houston. Even though Alzheimer’s took its toll on Sue, she always had a winning smile and a sparkle in her pretty blue eyes. Sue had the biggest smile when Allan came to visit almost every day with a Cappuccino Heath Blizzard from Dairy Queen which they shared.
We extend our thanks to the staff at Hudson Creek Alzheimer’s Special Care Center, and especially to Nancy Tigerina and Jasmine Morrison of Compassionate Care Hospice and private caregivers Danayale Jackson and Tiara Hodge.
Sue was predeceased by her parents and a sister, Julie Beckingham. She is survived by her husband of 39 years Allan Dexter Riggs of Bryan, Texas; her son Toby Riggs of Houston, her daughter Leah (Riggs) Bartlett and husband Brandon Bartlett and grandson Wyatt Kamm Bartlett of Bryan, Texas. Her siblings: Donald “Pete” (Anne) Beckingham, Gary Beckingham, John (Diane) Beckingham and Terry (Christine) Beckingham of New York; Dale Beckingham, Jane (Peter) Hagberg and Laurie (Richard) Elk of Florida and George (Carol) Beckingham of Texas; and numerous nephews and nieces.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic a memorial will be held at a later date. Arrangements are by Callaway-Jones in Bryan, Texas, and condolences can be made at callawayjones.com. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Alzheimer’s Association at act.alz.org.
Express condolences at CallawayJones.com