Patrick Riggs

  • January 3rd, 1948, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • March 26th, 2019 Stafford, California

Patrick was an extremely accomplished man. His work as an educator, political activist and as a warrior for social justice touched countless lives. Patrick was a teacher, a union leader, a stamp collector, a reader, a farmer, an herbal medicine expert, an artist, a music aficionado, a poet, and most importantly, a father.

Patrick had a cutting sense of humor, a twinkle in his eyes and a strength within himself. Patrick was brilliant, literate, and thoughtful. He walked his talk and gave anyone he respected a second chance. Patrick was secure in himself, fiercely loyal to his family and friends and committed to his own Truth. He did not waver from the line he drew in the sand and, what he had to say, he said to your face.

The lives he touched are seemingly infinite and he will be missed by many. To all of you that loved him, find solace in the fact that the love was reciprocated in every way…his heart was filled with the love he received from all, and to his very last day he was a happy and loving man, grateful for the loving human connections he had made with all that came into his life.

As a youth, Patrick began a lifelong passion of political activism and social justice. This began at Harding High School in Oklahoma City, where he forged bonds and friendships that last to this day.

After Patrick’s graduation from Harding High School he began his first of two terms at the American School in Switzerland in Lugano, Switzerland. During his attendance there, he discovered another passion, poetry.

He eventually settled down in Austin, Texas, where he continued his education in higher learning at the University of Texas and discovered his brilliant abilities in horticulture. He also began a lifelong love affair in the philatelic trades; the collection and study of stamps.

Austin was a place he held dear to his heart, to the very end. It was here that he began his own family. In 1980 he fell in love with Jamieson McGrath,raising two of her young daughters as his own, Chaundra Marie Riggs and Mishie Adelina Riggs. In 1981 while in Austin, Patrick and Jamieson welcomed a son into the world, Indicus McGrath Riggs.

The next few years found this family searching many different places including The West Indies for a place to call home, eventually landing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where a large portion of the Riggs family resided. In May of 1984, Patrick and Jamieson welcomed another son, Orion McGrath Riggs. The family eventually made their way to Northern California, where Patrick discovered his love for education and earned his teaching credential from Humboldt State University.

During his 24-year tenure as teacher at Alice Birney Elementary School, Patrick became the president of Eureka Teachers Association. Under Patrick’s leadership ETA became a much more political organization. Patrick was a brave leader and never backed down from any fight or wilted in any conflict. He was an especially strong advocate for teachers’ rights and elementary work conditions. There was never a doubt on which side of an issue Patrick stood — his opinion was clear, his voice strong.

According to long-time friend and colleague, Paul Bressoud, “In all my years of the ETA one of the greatest events was led by Patrick when he organized a protest against the closing of the Winzler Children’s Center. It was pure Patrick, community organized where impacted parents spoke, the CTA legal representative passionately weighed in, and then Patrick finished it off with the kind of righteous reasoning he was so good at. The District had no choice, they stepped down, changed their plans, and Winzler Children’s Center remains open to this day, a vital part of Eureka City Schools.”

Patrick was well known and admired within the ranks of the California Teachers Association for his work, his advocacy, his character, and for being a character. He also served as a State Council Representative, the policy making body of the 325,000-member teachers union. He was next elected to represent all CTA members and chapters from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border on CTA’s Association for Better Citizenship board (ABC), and finally was elected statewide chair of ABC. In all these activities, Patrick was always the articulate, compassionate, knowledgeable, and approachable leader that garnered the respect and affection of everyone fortunate enough to get to spend time with him.

Patrick also served as chair of the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee from 2004-2007, continuing his work in political activism.

Patrick is now with his daughter Chaundra Riggs, his granddaughter Donnayah Brishae Bell, and his own parents. He has also joined his siblings Virgina Brown, Jim Riggs, and Marion Woodson. Patrick is survived by his sons Indicus McGrath Riggs (Rachael Riggs), and Orion McGrath Riggs, his daughter Mishe Riggs, his brothers Bob Riggs, Chuck Riggs, and Gene Riggs, and his grandchildren: Marisha Ramirez, Ricardo Riggs, Shayna Riggs, and Osiah Riggs.

May he watch over us all from the cosmos and continue to provide his unfaltering guidance and wisdom throughout space and time.

There will be a celebration of Patrick Riggs’ life on April 27th at 2 p.m. at the Wharfinger building. For those that are able, feel free to bring a potluck dish. Beverages will be provided.

Contributions to the Patrick Riggs Education Fund can be sent to:

Coast Central Credit Union
2650 Harrison Avenue
Eureka, Ca 95501
Account #229852

The Riggs family thanks Paul Bressoud, Susan K. Savage, and the past and current staff at Alice Birney Elementary School for their thoughtful contributions to this remembrance. 


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Patrick Riggs’ family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.