William Stuart Riggsby
1936 - 2018
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William Stuart Riggsby

Knoxville, TN

Dr. William Stuart Riggsby, age 81, passed away on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, following an extended battle with illness. He was born in Ashland, Kentucky in 1936 to Charles and Mary Riggsby. Dr. Riggsby attended The George Washington University on an ROTC scholarship, gaining a Bachelor of Science degree. He received a Ph.D. in molecular biology and biophysics from Yale University in 1964. After stints at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Dr. Riggsby joined the University of Tennessee in 1969 as Assistant Professor of Microbiology. He earned full professorship in 1979 and went on to serve as Department Chair, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and, ultimately, Dean of the College before retiring in 2004. He also served as Director of the Tennessee Governor's School for the Sciences from 1991-1994. Dr. Riggsby continued his life-long passion for scholarship and education after retirement. He supported the development of The Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Tennessee, which recently hosted the 14th annual Riggsby Lecture on Medieval Mediterranean History and Culture. Dr. Riggsby loved music; he had an extensive vocal classical collection on vinyl and CD, performed with local early music groups, and served as a supernumerary in several Knoxville Opera Company productions. In addition, Dr. Riggsby was an avid chef whose culinary interests spanned the globe. Dr. Riggsby is survived by his wife of fifty-five years, Katherine Riggsby, as well as his three sons and their families: Andrew Riggsby and wife, Lisa Sandberg of Austin, Texas; Matthew Riggsby and wife, Stephanie Bunn, and their son, Alex Riggsby of Knoxville; Benjamin Riggsby and wife, Terri Preeg Riggsby, and their son, Caleb Riggsby of Portland, Oregon. No services will be held. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Dr. Riggsby's honor to The Marco Institute: marco.utk.edu/giving-opportunities/. Arrangements by Cremation Options, Inc. (865)6WE-CARE (693-2273) www.cremationoptionsinc.com

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Published in Knoxville News Sentinel on Feb. 4, 2018.
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Memories & Condolences
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6 entries
July 1, 2020
Although he wasn't my mentor in graduate school, he was by far my favorite Professor there. He was kind, compassionate, hilariously funny and as smart as they come.

He made me a better student and a better person. When you got a good grade in one of his classes you felt a sense of pride that you had not let him down, because to me, that was much more important than the grade itself. Decades after knowing him, I think of him often.

The university, the city of Knoxville and everyone he touched were privileged to have enjoyed and benefited from his time here.

He is truly missed.

Jeff Shumaker
January 29, 2020
Dr. Riggsby was such an amazing and funny man. And I loved that he and another graduate student in our group would volunteer to be extras in operas that came to Knoxville, serving as soldiers and other crowd roles. He always took his teapot to lectures and encouraged us in grad student meetings to give the background first to any explanation we were giving for our progress so that we all knew what was being explained. I think of him often when I mentor students.
Kitty McCracken
February 7, 2018
Dr. Riggsby was inspirational to me as a mentor on my Master's degree committee and was a great example of how to do research, teach and live a multifaceted life. His wonderful sense of humor combined with his skill in teaching and rigorous demands of his graduate students were a perfect combination to lead us in our early scientific careers. He will be greatly missed.
Kitty McCracken
February 7, 2018
Kitty McCracken
February 5, 2018
Class of 1980, 1984
Dr Riggsby enjoyed teaching and the educational process. He taught more students than could be imagined. His enthusiasm was reward in itself for learning under his guidance. He was well respected and will be missed by many and admired by all.
John Harris
February 5, 2018
Dr. Riggsby was a brilliant, kind gentleman whose intelligence and knowledge base may have rivaled that of Thomas Jefferson. The University, the state, and the country have lost a priceless one of a kind gem. Thank you Dr. Riggsby for all that you have done for all of us.
John & Mary Hawley
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