Eldon “Wray” Riggins, age 79, of Fairland, Ind., passed away on Thursday, July 2, 2020, after a long, hard-fought battle with disease. Wray will be remembered for his selflessness and “dad jokes,” as well as his strength and endurance in battling Parkinson’s disease and Spasmodic Torticottis.
Wray was born on October 15, 1940, in Evansville, Ind, to Roscoe and Eva Nadine (Callahan) Riggins. Wray spent many of his childhood years in Dillsboro, Ind., before moving to Noblesville, Ind., where he graduated high school in 1958.
To finance his education Wray held many jobs. He worked as a high school soda jerk at the local drug store and cleaned oil tanks at Rock Island Refinery in Indianapolis, where he once saved a co-worker’s life. He then doled out Studebakers and Chevys to state employees from the Indiana State Motor pool.
His hard work and stick-to-itiveness paid off with a degree from Butler University in 1968. At Butler, Wray started two love affairs – the first and most important with his beloved wife, Jane (McElfresh) Riggins, and the second with Butler basketball. Wray and Jane were married on July 4, 1964, and they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary last year.
In the course of raising and supporting his family, Wray always did what it took to make a living, including at one-point teaching accounting to inmates in a federal prison. Wray was a salesman and people person at heart. His management skills took him to Sinclair Oil in Fort Wayne and Muncie, Ind., and then to Shelby Dealers Supply in Shelbyville, Ind., where he worked his way up to president of the company. Finally, Wray opened his own business, Wray Sales Associates, through which he was a manufacturer’s representative for Quaker Windows and Fabco Doors. Wray also owned Fairland Door and Window Shop. In addition to his “real jobs,” Wray spent two terms as a county councilman for Shelby County.
Wray was not “all work and no play.” He was active in his community and involved with his children’s sports teams. He was a founding Board Member of the Triton Youth Athletic Association (TYAA) football program and coached his daughter in softball and basketball. Whether he was coaching or cheering in the stands, you could always count on him being there. Wray loved spending time with his family, and he also loved Studebakers, much to his wife’s dismay. Wray’s and Jane’s home was very welcoming to everyone, with food and drink always offered upon arrival. Wray considered himself very blessed as he experienced life as a “Papaw” to five grandchildren, Jonathan, Benjamin and Nicholas Riggins and Andrew and Erin Locke and many extended family members.
Wray will be deeply missed by those who loved him and fondly remembered for his can-do attitude, always putting others before himself and having the best one-liners and jokes.
A Catholic Mass will be held Saturday July 11, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. at Nativity Catholic Church, 7225 Southeastern Ave. Indianapolis, with calling at the church beginning at 9:30 am. The family hopes to host a Celebration of Life in mid-October 2020. Details will be shared with family and friends as they become available.
Wray’s parents and his brother, Jerry Neal Riggins, preceded him in death. In addition to his wife, Jane, Wray is survived by his son David Neal and David’s wife Jennifer (Stafford) and his daughter Jennifer J. Locke and her husband Steve, as well as his five grandchildren.
Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to Rock Steady Boxing (Parkinson’s Boxing Program) at 7440 N. Shadeland Ave, Suite 202, Indianapolis, IN 46250; Rocksteadyboxing.org; Donate to Rock Steady; and/or the Count it for Cat Scholarship, Butler University, 4600 Sunset Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46220.
Wilson St. Pierre Funeral Service and Crematory, Franklin Township Chapel, has been entrusted with arrangements. Due to recent COVID-19 restrictions and for the safety of the families we serve, all guests are required to wear a mask or face covering.