LEEDS - William F. Briggs, 85, died peacefully at his home in Leeds March 9, 2013.
Bill was born Oct. 28, 1927, in Rockford, Ill., the son of Burt and Marietta Briggs.
After graduating from high school, he served in the Army
and was stationed in Japan during the occupation following World War II
He studied at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., graduating with a degree in music.
After marrying Madge Henricks in 1952, Bill earned a master's degree at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. He then taught music in the public schools of Penfield, N.Y., for 25 years.
A talented singer and vocal coach, he was the bass soloist at Asbury First United Methodist Church in Rochester for two decades. During those years, Bill performed numerous opera roles with Opera Theatre of Rochester; Opera Under the Stars; and the Eastman School of Music. He was particularly proud of his role in the premier of the Alec Wilder four-character opera, "The Truth About Windmills."
Bill liked to joke that he did his career backwards because he moved from teaching into performing rather than vice versa.
In 1984, he and Madge moved to New York City where over the next 15 years he had an active musical career. He sang professionally with the choir of St. Bartholomew's Church and the Light Opera of Manhattan and toured internationally as a long standing member of the Gregg Smith Singers.
In 2000, after Bill retired from singing, he and Madge moved to Fearrington Village near Chapel Hill, N.C. They relocated to Leeds six years ago. In addition to his love of music, Bill was devoted to his pets.
Bill is survived by his wife, Madge; his four children, Burton Briggs of San Antonio, Texas, Elizabeth Dubuisson of Duxbury, Sarah Briggs of Northampton, and Paul Briggs of Charlotte, N.C.; his brother, Burdette Briggs of Freeport, Ill.; and by his five grandchildren, Jillian Dubuisson, Sophie Dubuisson, Ryan Briggs, Natalie Briggs and Stone Cornelius.
Another brother Maurice Briggs predeceased him.
There will be a private celebration of his life for the family at a later date.
Memorial donations may be made to the VNA & Hospice of Cooley Dickinson Hospital, 168 Industrial Drive, Northampton, MA 01060 or to The Gregg Smith Singers, 42 Custer Avenue, Yonkers, NY (www.greggsmithsingers.com
To sign a Guest Book, express condolences, share memories and read other obituaries, go to www.gazettenet.com/obituaries.