Thomas Lee Wiggins Jr. passed away in Franklin, N.C., on Aug. 16, 2016. A veteran of World War II, he was proud to serve in the 11th Airborne Division. A true patriot, his service to his country and heritage were a legacy often shared through verse and stories, developing pride and respect for the Greatest Generation among his family and friends.
Thomas “Pa” was born on Oct. 31, 1926, in Fitzgerald, Ga., to Thomas “Tom” and Evelyn Wiggins. Precious memories were made while growing up in Waycross, GA., where friendships were formed and cherished throughout his life. He attended Waycross High School and the Bolles School in Jacksonville, where he won the singles tennis tournament in the summer of 1944. After graduating, he followed his buddies into the military, joining the army and serving in the Pacific and Occupation forces in Japan.
After the war, Tommy returned to his beloved hometown and attended Georgia Southwestern College. He married “the prettiest girl in Waycross,” Mary Ruth Hinnant, and moved across the Mason-Dixon Line to Philadelphia, graduating from the Franklin School of Science and Arts. A man of words and a vibrant spirit, Tommy and his wife returned to the South and made their way back to where their story began, living in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
Thomas “Tom” established the laboratory in the medical office of Dr. McKee Hargett, serving the community of Screven, GA. Retiring to his beloved Waycross, he divided his time between Fernandina Beach and Fitzgerald.
An avid sportsman, his hobbies included golfing, tennis, long -distance walking, hiking, boating and metal detecting. a lifetime student, he devoured the works of the “great masters” and enjoyed volunteer work as a Civil War historian and geneologist In the spirit of his love for heritage, he was proud to become a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. During his later years, he enjoyed the “good ole days” and was grateful for the opportunity for returning to “the best times” courtesy of Turner Classic Movies.
He was preceeded in death by his wife, Ruth Hinnant Wiggins; his sister, Francis Head (Ewald); parents, Tom and Evelyn Wiggins; and nephew, Ronnie Head.
Thomas is survived by a daughter, Mary W. Jones (Mack); son, Thomas Lee Wiggins III (Bonnie); four grandchildren, Marnie Wingard (Chris), Kelli Audet (Matt), April Wiggins and Jason Wiggins (Brittany); six great-grandchildren, Hannah Ruth and Camden Wingard, Braden and Addisyn Aiken, amd Madelyn and Mason Wiggins; nephew, G. Thomas Head (Karen); cousin and dear friend, Clyde Bailey; great-nephews, Tom, Jefferey and Bernard Head; and brother-in-law, JL Hinnant.
Celebration of Life was held in his home on Cowee Mountain in Franklin.
A graveside service will be held on Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. at Bosque Bello Cemetery, Fernandina Beach. The Rev. Chris Wingard will officiate, with the military honors also conducted.