‘Mr. Ahoskie’ lives forever Portrait, room dedication honors the late Arthur Lee Wiggins

Published 8:50 pm Thursday, October 30, 2008

AHOSKIE – Despite the passage of four and one-half years after his death, “Mr. Ahoskie” remains in the hearts and minds of many individuals.

Saturday night, those who knew and loved the late Arthur Lee Wiggins gathered at the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce to witness the unveiling of his portrait and the formal opening of the “Arthur Lee Wiggins Room” at the Chamber.

With the exception of one brief absence, Wiggins served the Ahoskie Chamber as its Executive Director from April 1, 1971 until his death on May 24, 2004 at the age of 73. He also served four terms as Mayor of Ahoskie.

“He was the quintessential ‘Mr. Ahoskie’ in every way,” Dan Joyner, a member of the Ahoskie’s Chamber’s Board of Directors, said during Saturday’s ceremony. “Arthur Lee loved Ahoskie and all the people associated with it.”

Joyner said that although over four years have passed since Wiggins’ death, “we all still miss Arthur Lee.”

“Look around this Chamber; look around this town, you’ll see Arthur Lee’s handprints everywhere,” Joyner stressed. “His heart has always been in Ahoskie, the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce and his beloved Hickory Chapel Church. As we stand here tonight and remember this man with this portrait and this room dedicated in his honor, Arthur Lee’s legacy lives on.”

Also making remarks prior to the portrait unveiling were Sally Barber and Carolyn Brinkley. Both praised Wiggins as “a kind and caring man” who went out of his way to help others.

As the time arrived to unveil the portrait, Wiggins’ sister, Gertrude Myers, and brother, Fred Wiggins, joined niece Rita Bula and nephew Alan Myers in performing that honor.

With tears in her eyes, Mrs. Myers thanked the Chamber and those assembled for remembering her late brother.

Wiggins’ legacy in Ahoskie included the initiation of the Harvest Festival in August of 1971. That event is now known as Indian Summer Days, the Ahoskie Chamber’s most successful venture.

In the fall of 1973, Wiggins orchestrated the efforts of the Chamber and the Retail Merchants Association to sponsor the town’s Christmas Parade. He oversaw that annual event until his death and the Chamber remains as the primary sponsor of the parade even today.

In 1991, Wiggins was the driving force behind the Ahoskie Chicken Fest and led that annual event over its 10-year life.

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, the Virginia-North Carolina Peanut Board of Trade and Hickory Chapel Free Will Baptist Church.

Additionally, he worked for 17 years 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 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.