Ahoskie icon dies

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 1, 2004

AHOSKIE – For the majority of his life, Arthur Lee Wiggins gave his heart to Ahoskie. On Saturday that heart took its final beat.

Wiggins, perhaps Ahoskie’s most favorite son in his duel role as a four-term Mayor and Executive Director of the town’s Chamber of Commerce, passed away on Saturday in Pitt Memorial Hospital. He was 73.

&uot;There was no way that I, or anyone else who knew him, could ever question his love for the town of Ahoskie and its people,&uot; said O.S. &uot;Buck&uot; Suiter Jr. who, as a 21-year veteran of the Ahoskie Town Council, served as Mayor Pro Tem under Wiggins.

Suiter continued, &uot;Ahoskie was his love…Ahoskie was his life. His passing leaves a huge void to fill, one that may never be filled ever again. God just doesn’t make men like Arthur Lee Wiggins anymore.&uot;

Not only did Wiggins lend his enormous talents in making Ahoskie a better place to live, he also took a keen interest in the growth of Hertford County and northeastern North Carolina.

Wiggins held various offices within the Hertford County Democratic Party. He was extremely active in the Northeast Partnership and served as Chairman of the Northeastern Tourism Committee. Wiggins was a member of the Museum of the Albemarle, the Atlantic District Fair (ADF) Committee and Hickory Chapel Free Will Baptist Church.

&uot;Ahoskie, Hertford County and all of northeastern North Carolina has lost a true friend,&uot; said DuPont Davis, a Hertford County Commissioner who served with Wiggins on the ADF Board of Directors.

Davis continued, &uot;He loved Ahoskie and did everything in his power to keep Ahoskie on the map. His leadership in the Chamber was second to none. He always had a special interest in the ADF. Whenever I called upon him for something, he was always there, from helping us promote one of the harness races to making a speech at the Fair.&uot;

A phrase repeated over and over again as people recalled the life of Wiggins was that he would never refuse a request.

&uot;One of his biggest traits was that he always had time for anybody,&uot; stated Bill Hazelgrove, Director of the Windsor/Bertie Chamber of Commerce. &uot;I remember when I came here about nine years ago, one of the first people to extend a hand and help me was Arthur Lee Wiggins. He took me out and introduced me to those I needed to know in my job. I’ll never forget how gracious and how helpful he was to me.&uot;

&uot;Ahoskie and Arthur Lee Wiggins are synonymous with one another,&uot; stressed Edgar L. &uot;Buzzy&uot; Swain Jr. who serves on the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. &uot;Arthur Lee had Ahoskie at heart in everything he did. And everything he did for this town he did it in a very efficient manner. He was the man behind the scenes that made it all come together.&uot;

It’s hard to imagine that Wiggins ever found the time to work in other professions outside his roles of Mayor and Chamber Director. However, he did serve a 17-year employment with Federal Land Bank and also served as Sales Supervisor for the Ahoskie Tobacco Market.

He also gave freely of his time within the community of which he loved so dearly. Singing and playing the piano were two of his favorite pastimes and he enjoyed doing both for the residents at several local rest homes. Wiggins was also very active in the organization of the Gallery Theatre where he performed in several musical productions.

&uot;Absolutely nobody loved Ahoskie more than Arthur Lee,&uot; noted Russell Overman, Ahoskie’s Town Manager. &uot;We were always attending various meetings together, both locally, regionally and statewide. He was always trying to make Ahoskie’s position known. If there was a meeting that could help to promote this town, Arthur Lee was there.&uot;

Wiggins leaves a sister, Gertrude Myers, and a brother, Fred Wiggins, along with several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. today (Tuesday) at Garrett Funeral Home in Ahoskie with the Rev. Robert May officiating. Burial will follow in the Ahoskie Cemetery.

The family is asking for memorials to be sent to the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce, 310 South Catherine Creek Road, Ahoskie, NC, 27910.