Benjamin “Benjie” Riggs, 60, performed many volunteer duties in the county, with 40-plus years of service with Bradley County Fire-Rescue among them. He was also very active in the Democratic Party.
Riggs died unexpectedly at Erlanger Medical Center. Word traveled quickly through social media regarding his sudden passing.
Having been born into a military family, Memorial Day was a cherished day for Riggs, according to his sister Debbie.
Riggs’ family settled after his father retired from the U.S. Army during Benjie’s senior year at Bradley Central High School.
That was where he became a part of the annual staff.
Riggs would be seen at area events donating time through his photographic background.
“His love for photography started in early elementary school,” said Debbie. “He was always behind the camera when something was going on.”
Under the direction of the late Morris Greene, former Civil Defense director, Riggs joined the organization to provide valuable skills, including photography.
“Benjie was instrumental in working later with us on weather-related events, special events such as ambulance operations and fire/rescue,” said interim Bradley County Fire Chief Troy Spence.
One story of Riggs’ involvement told by Debbie included:
“A rescue crew including Benjie rolled onto a scene and all the men were of large stature except for Benjie. The car had flipped and the person was trapped. Benjie crawled into the car, stabilized the driver and began much needed life-saving treatment,” Debbie Riggs said.
“Benjie took many of the photos and videos we used to analyze and study various scenes we have worked. His photography was used to train many, many rescue personnel as well as document the scene in a professional manner,” Spence said.
Riggs expanded his love for photography, owning Benjie’s Photos.
He provided family photos, modeling portfolios, freelance and other services.
“Benjie will be missed by emergency personnel and by members of the community who knew him. He was very active in the veterans events and community functions,” Spence said.
Former Cleveland Fire Chief Chuck Atchley worked with Riggs through many transitions of careers.
“He was a good man and very dedicated to our community,” Atchley said, “not only to Bradley County Fire-Rescue, but all of our emergency services family and residents.”
Arrangements have been set by Grissom Funeral Home on North Ocoee Street. Visitation will be from 4 to 9 p.m. today, with the funeral set for Thursday at 2 p.m., following visitation beginning at noon.