Life Story Service
Friday, September 2, 2022
11:00 AM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
A reception will follow in the Life Story Center where food, drinks, and stories will be shared. Burial at Mount Ever Rest Memorial Park.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Centrica Care Navigators
7100 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Walter Wiggins, it is easy to see both his unwavering strength and his unconditional love for his family. He was well known for his solid work ethic, and he was never afraid to stand up for what he believed in. A loving husband and father, Walter was so proud to watch his family tree grow into numerous branches of loved ones who filled his heart with joy. His selfless heart of service allowed him to touch the lives of countless others, and he was always willing to help those in need in any way he could. Forever loved, Walter will be deeply missed by those who knew him best.
During the first half of the 1940s the eyes of our nation and much of the world were focused overseas as WWII raged on. Countless young servicemen and women had answered the call to serve while those who remained stateside became all too familiar with rationing on common goods such as rubber, coffee, canned goods, and paper. It was also during this time that Famous and Elizabeth (Ross) Wiggins were filled with great anticipation as they awaited the birth of their new baby as the holiday season was in full swing in Birmingham, Alabama, in December of 1944. Their wait was finally over when the baby boy they named Walter made his grand entrance on December 7th that year.
Growing up, Walter was a typical young man of his generation in many ways. He was raised in the family home in Birmingham, Alabama, during the height of the Civil Rights Era. Walter was one of 10 children in the Wiggins family, and he grew to be close with his siblings, Betty, James, Annette, Beverly Kaye, Alice Faye, Geraldine, Ronald, Wanda, and Teresa. At a young age, he was able to form the foundations for both his work ethic and his strong moral compass. Walt marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the two were once arrested together. Also worth noting, Walt shared a cell with the activist Dick Gregory for the night.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Walter as he moved to Michigan in 1966. He lived with his Aunt Jessie and Uncle James and began working at General Motors in order to support himself. It was while he was out one night that Walter met the woman who would go on to become the love of his life. Her name was Helen Williams, and the two hit it off right from the start. Their relationship quickly developed into something truly wonderful. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Walter and Helen were married in the presence of family and friends on October 28, 1967.
All who knew Walter can surely agree that, of all the things he loved in life, he treasured his family above all else. Over the years, he and Helen were overjoyed to welcome their two beloved children, Yolanda and Walter Jr., into their hearts and home. Walter thrived in his role as a father and did his best to raise his children into kind and hardworking individuals. He loved showering them with fun trips to Disney World, Great America, or Alabama, where they would visit family. Walter would ride the roller coasters with the children while Helen remained safely on the ground. He also liked to take them fishing with him. Later in life, Walter was thrilled to become a grandfather and even a great-grandfather. He adored his grandchildren and doted on them whenever he could, taking them to the Air Zoo or to amusement parks. Many priceless family memories were created when Walter took his grandchildren fishing, in the same way as he had taken his own children. He always considered himself blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones.
In order to provide for himself and his family, Walter spent 37 years building a successful career at General Motors. He was a skilled welder maintenance and had a knack for fixing any machine. Walter was very well respected by his coworkers who would often tell stories of how he could make them laugh with his jokes or sharp sense of humor. He was always willing to work hard when it came to supporting his loved ones, and it was even better that he enjoyed his work in the process.
Never one to like sitting still for long, Walter pursued many hobbies to stay busy in his free time. He was very creative and thrifty, and he enjoyed going to thrift stores to see what he could find. Walter loved taking golf trips to Mississippi, usually with good friends at his side. They would hit the casinos one day and then go to the golf course the next. Walter made his own putters, welding them together on his own. He participated in both a golf league and a bowling league. Walter liked to read Stephen King novels, photography, and he enjoyed drinking Edge beer and smoking Pall Mall cigarettes. He was always known to say, “That’s a good thing.”
As his family and friends can attest, Walter Wiggins truly understood the secret to a life well lived. He was a constant source of strength and support for others, even in the most difficult of times. Nothing brought Walter greater joy than spending time with his loved ones even in the routine moments of life. His magnetic personality drew others to him, and he was genuinely kind to everyone he met. Though he will be deeply missed, Walter leaves behind a priceless legacy that his loved ones will be proud to carry on in his footsteps.
Walter Wiggins Sr. died on August 24, 2022. Walter was preceded in death by his son, Walter Jr.; siblings: Betty Brown, James Wiggins, Ronald Wiggins, Beverly Kay Pippen and brothers-in-law Richard Dunner Sr. and Mack V Pippen Sr. and his parents; Famous Wiggins and Dr. Elizabeth (Ross) Pugh. Surviving are his wife, Helen; children: Yolanda Wiggins; grandchildren: Jazmyn Saunders, Dionne Saunders, Damon Saunders, Shaquille Wiggins, Shabriea Wiggins, and Martell Wiggins; and great-grandchildren: Lindsey Jenkins and Carver Cash Wiggins; sister: Annette Dunner, Alice Faye Shipman, Geraldine Reese, Wanda (James) Birchfield, and Teresa (Douglas) Ragland; Aunt Will and many niece, nephews, cousins, and friends.
A Life Story Service will be held Friday (SEPT 2) at 11 AM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. A reception will follow in the Life Story Center where food, drinks, and stories will be shared. Burial at Mount Ever Rest Memorial Park. Visit Walter’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Centrica Care Navigators.