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Francis G. ‘Frank’ Riggs, insurance executive and athlete, dies

Frank Riggs was an outstanding lacrosse and football player in high school and college.
Frank Riggs was an outstanding lacrosse and football player in high school and college.

Francis Graham “Frank” Riggs, a retired insurance agency executive who had been a standout athlete, died of dementia Feb. 22 at the Springwell Retirement Community in Mount Washington. The former Owings Mills resident was 83.

Born in Baltimore and raised on an Old Court Road farm, he was the son of Lawrason Riggs, an insurance broker, and his wife, Mary Bartlett, a member of the Johns Hopkins Women’s Board and a Spring Grove Hospital volunteer.

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“He was charming and had more friends than you could count,” said his wife of 55 years, Mary Faith Henderson. “He was generous and kind.”

He attended the Calvert School and was a 1957 Gilman School graduate. He began getting noticed by sports writers while still a Calvert student and had an accomplished career at Gilman, where he dominated the 1956 football game against rival McDonogh School.

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“Frank Riggs, Gilman’s outstanding fullback, closed out his high school grid career yesterday with a top performance as he led his teammates to a 39 to 14 trouncing of McDonogh in the 41st game of the series at Roland Park,” said a 1956 Sun article.

The article said he scored three touchdowns and an extra point.

“In addition he played a fine defensive game, making several key tackles from his linebacker position,” The Sun’s article said.

Mr. Riggs played lacrosse and was named to The Sun’s All Scholastic Team. He was also its co-captain.

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“He was a charismatic guy in a quiet way. He was totally loyal. His presence made everyone pay attention. He commanded a room. He was a fine listener. He inspired others around him,” said John A. “Jack” Luetkemeyer Jr., a friend of more than 60 years.

He attended the University of North Carolina, where he was football team co-captain and was drafted by the Denver Broncos. While a rookie, he suffered concussions and returned to Baltimore to join the family business.

He served as executive vice president of RCM&D Insurance for more than 50 years. The company was founded in 1885 by Henry Warfield. Jesse Riggs, his ancestor, joined the insurance brokerage in 1900. It was later called Riggs, Counselman, Michaels and Downes.

Mr. Riggs retired in 2011 and left its board of directors in 2012.

Bob Cawley, president of RCM&D Inc., said, “One of Frank’s great natural gifts was his capacity to relate to people of all walks in life.”

He also said, “He was an incredibly engaging person, thoughtful and genuinely interested in people and their stories. He was a master at building and maintaining relationships, which served him well in his long and successful business career.”

Mr. Riggs was a past board member of Provident Bankshares, Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Hopkins Nursing School, the Green Mount Cemetery and Garrison Forest School. He was a board chair at the U.S. Lacrosse Foundation and Calvert School.

“Frank was a stellar athlete with herculean strength, and at the same time had the gentlest, kindest soul,” said a family friend, Molly Hathaway. “He was a community leader and a steadfast friend with boundless energy and devotion for his family and his many friends.”

Mr. Riggs received the Dinty Moore Distinguished Service Award from the US Lacrosse Foundation and was inducted into the Maryland Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

He played for the Mount Washington Club’s lacrosse team. He played defense on the 1967 USA Lacrosse Team, which took the gold medal at the World Games in Toronto, Canada.

“Frank generally played the hardest-to-guard [lacrosse] players,” said A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, a close friend. “He was strong, fast and tough. He was also a great football player. In later years I got him into scuba diving.”

He said, “We went to Southern Australia and made dives around great white sharks. He was game for anything. We later went to the Red Sea, the Coral Sea and Coco Island.”

Mr. Riggs also led scuba diving trips with his wife and children.

Mr. Riggs was a golf enthusiast, squash player and cyclist. He enjoyed dancing.

His sister, Mary Bartlett “Bartie” Riggs Cole, said, “I looked up to Frank and was always proud to be his sister. Over the past eight years, while caring for him, we had the opportunity to reflect. Some of my favorite memories were of our Calvert School days, fox hunting with mom and dad and our older brother, Lawrie, and time spent with our farm caretaker, Wilson Skipper.”

In addition to his wife of 55 years and sister, survivors include a son, Dudley Riggs of Frederick, and two daughters, Charlotte Riggs of Monkton and Melissa Riggs of Owings Mills.

A celebration of life is planned for May.

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