Rebecca Rigger, a League of Women Voters activist who monitored the Baltimore County Planning Board, died of a heart attack March 25 at her Monkton home. She was 85.
Born Rebecca Rogers in Big Island, Va., she was raised at an apple orchard in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She earned a bachelor's degree from what is now James Madison University, where she was editor of the college newspaper.
As a young woman, she moved to eastern Baltimore County and taught at Middle River Junior High School. After teaching briefly in Charleston, S.C., she taught English and social studies at Carroll Manor Junior High School and Hereford High School.
Family members said that she had a summer job at Camp Greentop, a project of the Baltimore League for Crippled Children near Hagerstown. She worked there every summer from the early 1950s to the early 1970s.
"She did everything from teaching swimming to kids with conditions ranging from polio to cerebral palsy, to running the business office," said her daughter, Shelley Rigger of Davidson, N.C.
While at the camp she met her husband, Ralph Donald Rigger Sr., an industrial arts and woodworking teacher who retired from Dulaney High School in 1985.
Mrs. Rigger had lived in Monkton since the 1950s and became a League of Women Voters volunteer. She prepared voters guides for many years and worked with the staff at Patuxent Publishing to print the guides.
She was the league's representative and observer at the Baltimore County Planning Board, where she was interested in issues of rural land preservation. She also worked in the league offices in Towson and worked to educate the public about civic issues.
She organized a series of visits by international delegations to Maryland as part of the Civic Hosting Program of the U.S. State Department.
"One of her favorite league activities was responding to requests for information about voting-related matters. She would visit communities to explain ballot questions," her daughter said.
"She was very helpful," said Courtney L. Speed, a Turners Station resident. "We had questions about a number of the candidates. She came with her husband. It was touching to see the love between them."
Mrs. Rigger joined St. James Episcopal Church in Monkton in 1955. Family members said she did many tasks for the parish and was a member of the women's guild and the altar guild. She often helped plan funerals at the church. The final funeral she coordinated took place the day after her death.
"The day she died she had set up the church for a funeral," said her daughter.
Her rector, the Rev. Charlie Barton, called her a "loving presence" who assisted him when he was newly assigned to the parish.
"She was a very faithful person who believed the way to coming closest to the kingdom of God was to live it," Mr. Barton said. "At a funeral, she could comfort people with a gesture. She knew when to stand next to a bereaved person and she knew when to give them space."
Mrs. Rigger was also a volunteer at Paul's Place, a Ward Street soup kitchen in the Washington Village-Pigtown neighborhood of Southwest Baltimore.
"She was a champion for the work of Paul's Place and at her home church, St. James. She was instrumental in holding an annual breakfast where the proceeds would benefit us," said William J. McLennan, the charity's executive director. "She and her husband volunteered once a month. She had the gift of connection ... that made people feel comfortable. She was so vital. All of us shed tears."
Services will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at St. James Episcopal Church, 3100 Monkton Road in Monkton.
In addition to her daughter, survivors include her husband of nearly 60 years; a son, Don Rigger of Decatur, Ga.; two other daughters, Melinda Mogowski of Kill Devil Hills, N.C., and Jennifer Rigger of Arlington, Va.; three sisters, Mary Stout of Staunton, Va., Patricia Hammann of Gettysburg, Pa., and Nancy Wolfe of Columbus, Ohio; and six grandchildren.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun