Jerry Mack Wiggins passed away Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, at home in Panama City, Fla. He was born Feb. 7, 1931, in Birmingham, Ala. Growing up in Panama City, Jerry was a boy scout and a charter member of DeMolay. As a member of the ROTC rifle team, he was honored with a letter as "top gunner" for accuracy. Jerry graduated from Bay High in 1949, where he was actively involved in glee club and theater. He also ran for class president, and was (narrowly?) defeated by Tim Smith (now Dr. Tim Smith of Panama City.) Jerry joined the US Air Force in 1951 and served until 1955, achieving the rank of SSGT. He was stationed at Goose AFB in Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada.
Jerry owned and operated Wiggins Auto Parts on 15th Street in Panama City for over 50 years. "Wiggins," as it was known around town, was opened in 1947 by Jerry's father, Ray. Every season, customers expected to see Jerry's signature tomatoes growing in the front beds welcoming them to the store that had become a community landmark. Jerry ran the business (alongside his sons and daughter) until he retired in 2000. As an adult, Jerry was a licensed pilot and a member of the Private Pilot Association.
A turning point in his life came 40 years ago when he saw a barbershop singing performance at a Las Vegas automotive convention. He was hooked. Since then, he had been a member of a number of local barbershop groups including the Half Tones, the Gulf Tones, and Mixed Company. He and his wife, Charlotte, also traveled extensively to perform and attend international barbershop competitions. Along with singing, Jerry had many hobbies. He was an avid nature photographer, winning numerous awards for his work in regional competitions. He played many instruments, including piano, harmonica and accordion. He also had a woodworking shop where he loved to build furniture, picture frames, table lamps and much more.
Jerry kept a farm known as "Wiggins Wanch" where he lovingly maintained an expansive garden, growing seemingly anything that would take root...from peas to persimmons to pomegranates. The farm also became a safe haven for stray animals, becoming a home for dogs like Blackie, Smoky and Lucky along with countless feline friends. The farm was almost like a family campground and Jerry watched his five children (and grandchildren) grow up as they roamed the grounds fishing, riding motorcycles and eating scuppernongs off the vine.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Aline B. Wiggins, father, Ray L. Wiggins, and sons Raymond Gary Wiggins and Milton Russell Wiggins.
He is survived by his wife, Charlotte Higgs-Wiggins; children, Steve (wife, Teresa) Wiggins of Panama City Beach, Angela (husband, Aaron) Borns of Montclair, N.J., and Phillip Wiggins of Panama City; his grandchildren, Ryan Sawyer of Lynn Haven, Kristen Wiggins of Pensacola, Corey Wiggins of Panama City, Melanie Wiggins of Panama City Beach, Colin Wiggins of Panama City, Adrian Wiggins of Panama City Beach, and Sylvan Borns of Montclair, N.J. Jerry is also survived by his first wife, June B. Wiggins of Panama City.
Funeral services will begin at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, at the Kent-Forest Lawn Funeral Home Chapel with the Rev. Gary Stringfellow officiating. Interment will follow at Evergreen Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends at the funeral home Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, from 6-8 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Humane Society or a local animal shelter. The Wiggins family would like to give a special thank you to Dr. Tim Smith, Gentiva Home Health Care, and the nursing staff at Gulf Coast Medical Center.
2403 Harrison Ave.
Panama City, Fla. 32405
2403 Harrison Avenue Panama City, FL 32405
Published in Panama City News Herald on Aug. 4, 2014