How To Live A Full Life By Clarence Riggs

Today, my grand father Clarence Riggs passed away. He was born on the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland in 1915. Yeah that’s right…He lived to be 101 years old.

We always hear about the legacy we leave behind, and how people will remember us. My grandfather did that and so much more. At 101 he lived a full life. He never said a bad word about anyone, never cursed, and always put others before himself.

This is what I wish to do with this blog post, celebrate my grand father. Honor and remember him.

Here are 3 things I learned about living a full life…Taught by one of the greatest men I ever knew;

1. God Came First
– My grand father was a man of faith. His relationship with God came first and foremost. And while I never appreciated that growing up, the more I grew in my faith, the more I see how important this relationship was for my grand father.

Everything else in his life was formed because of the relationship he had with his Creator and Savior. The way he treated others. Served others. Worked with others. All came from his faith. It grounded him and humbled him, and because of that he lived a fulfilled life with so much wealth…The spiritual and soulful kind 🙂

2. His Health Was A Priority – As you can see, he was a huge outdoorsmen. He loved to fish. He loved to hunt. And he literally walked for 2 miles a day. No matter what. Ask anyone that knew him, they would tell you he was most likely found some where n the ‘bush’…Walking.

clarence riggs

He always ate 3 meals a day, and while he enjoyed his ice cream as a late night snack, he had a healthy appetite and enjoyed good food with great company. Wholesome food was a staple of his diet, after all he caught a lot of fish and hunted a lot of wildlife lol

3. He Loved & Served – My grand father (and grand mother) received the Order of the Red Cross in 1997. They were always active in the community, their church and around the island of Newfoundland. He loved his family, he loved his friends and was always doing something for someone…Somewhere. Some how.

clarence riggs
(My grand parents on their honeymoon on the Terra Nova River – 1945)

On top of that, he had 4 children. 2 grand sons. And 3 great grand children with a fourth on the way in August of this year. He was always around family, and loved each of us with all his heart.

I’ll miss my grand father. If anyone could write a definition of living the perfect life, my grand father’s name would be a shining example.

He put his faith first, exercised daily and served others! That’s a pretty good formula if you ask me for a long, full life.

If I could be a tenth of the man he was, I’ll be fine with that 🙂

Here is an interview that was done with my grandpa in 2011. It was called ‘Clarence Riggs –
One of the most interesting people in Newfoundland’.


P.S.….And if you have ever wondered where I got my love of reading from…As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…

53 thoughts to “How To Live A Full Life By Clarence Riggs”

  1. Hi, Jon. This is such a beautiful tribute to Grandpa. It sounds like he lived in a paradise. I hope New Foundland is still that way to some extent. I loved listening to his video – and a great accent he has! His pictures are awesome! I love the old picture of him and his wife. The picture above that is so cool with a hint of color to it.
    I’m sorry you lost Grandpa today. I give you my deepest sympathy for you and your family, many prayers, love, big hugs.

      1. Jon ,in 1956 your Grandfather taught school in Sandringham ,Bonavista Bay ,He boarded with my parents Irene & Kenneth Bradley ,then in 1972 he was MC at their 50th wedding Anniversary .A fine man ! I remember he was very musical ,& a great conversationalist .

  2. Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there. I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glints on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning’s hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry;
    I am not there. I did not die.

    __Mary Elizabeth Frye

  3. That video was delightful, Jon! I could have listened to your grandfather for hours. 🙂 He has a vibrant spirit and I say HAS because he is still with you. <3 Your grandparents are very sweet looking in the pictures, too!
    Thank you for sharing his legacy with all of us. It will live on in you and your children. And I know he is proud.
    Much love, prayers and healing light to all of you. <3

  4. A beautiful tribute to your Grandpa Jon. I’m so glad that you got to be there and spend some time together before he passed. He lived such a blessed life from the sounds of it, something we could all aspire to. Three square meals a day and 2 miles walking.
    Thinking of you and your family today 🙂

  5. Hey Jon, Thanks for sharing your wonderful Grandfather with us. I’m sure he appreciated having you by his side and spending time with him before he passed. I enjoyed listening to what he had to share in his interview and his smile sure lit up the room. Sounds like he was a truly blessed man that lived a very full and happy life. Thinking of you and your family, many hugs and prayers!!

  6. Thinking of you and the whole Newfie family. Your grandpa was an amazing man.

    You say that your love of reading was passed down, I can confirm that Matthew has the same love and can see a lot of your Grandpa in him.

  7. What an exceptional tribute to your grandfather, Jon. We just got home a little bit ago from me picking up Brian in Clarksville after his bus trip to Virginia for his sister’s wedding, & when I started catching up from today I saw your grandfather had passed. We are so, so sorry and will be keeping you and Matty and the rest of your family in thoughts & prayers for a while to come, and I hope all your no doubt fantastic memories of this extraordinary man will comfort you for a long time to come. Much love & hugs from the Cullens.

      1. I knew your Grandparents quite well when I was growing up! They were great friends of my grandparents! When my mom was sick there was hardly a day went by that your grandmother would call to see how she was or drop by with some of her wonderful baking! Your grandfather was a wonderful Godly man! Hadn’t seen him since the 80’s as I moved out of province but I remember him well from my childhood days!
        You are so lucky to have had such a wonderful man in your life! Thinking of you all at this time! Glovertown has lost an icon that I am sure of!

  8. That is a beautiful and moving tribute to your grandfather… thank you for sharing…. so much of our history is lost because we don’t take time to listen to the senior members in our families…. I’m glad for this video and hope you have others…. *hugs*

      1. Hey Jon my name is Corey Gill I own Gills Grill a restaurant in Gambo . I have had the pleasure of serving your grandfather many times here and at Downhome Delights in Eastport .Mr Riggs would always sing out and wave to me making sure I came out to see him . From my wife and I were sorry and give our sincere condolences to your family he will be greatly missed .

        1. Thank Corey, appreciate the comments and condolences. My mom told me about how much he enjoyed stopping by in Gambo. Thank you for welcoming him each time 🙂

  9. So sorry to hear of Mr Riggs passing. At 101 years of age….how wonderful..such a life. My Mom would have loved to have kept up with him, but she only got to 96. …….Mrs Riggs and Mom had the same birthdate, but Mom was the same age as Mr Riggs. They always kept in touch because of that and of course they enjoyed keeping up with North West River from time to time. I had him as my teacher and in later years was so honoured to have him and Mrs Riggs visit with us in Ontario. Great Memories of both of them. He tried hard to stay to see the Maple Leafs win a stanly Cup. I’m sure he will do that in spirit when it happens. A sad day for you all. SYmpathy to you all.

    1. Hi folks, thanks for stopping by and sending your thoughts. I know my family appreciates it very much. And oh yes, the running joke around here was that he’d live forever because he swore he would see the Leafs win another cup before he passed. 🙂

  10. Beautiful tribute to an amazing man, Uncle Clar was such a special person to so many. I was so looking forward to bringing my daughter Mandy and her children Ryan and Andrea to see Uncle Clar in July, when we will all be in Newfoundland. I did take Ryan to meet him last August, it was a wonderful visit, and thankfully we have pictures. My heart is broken at the loss of such a wonderful, caring, loving, witty man. My sincere sympathy, love and prayers to all the family.

    Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalm 116: 15

  11. Wonderful tribute to your Grand-father Jonathon. He was an amazing man…we feel privlaged to have known him.Condolances to you and your family.

  12. Mr. Riggs taught me in school. I liked him as a teacher and as a person. I have lived away from Nfld for 35 years, moving back in 2013. Since coming back I have run into him a couple times and I was quite surprised that he would remember one of his students after that many years but he did remember me. I went to the hospital Saturday to see him, he was sleeping but I did go see him, held his hand, said a silent prayer and wished him a pleasant journey.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Donna. Yes he had such a sharp mind and memory. One of his favorite past times was watching Jeopardy every evening and basically answering every question with ease. 🙂 I still say he should have competed lol

  13. Beautiful!!… I’m so honored to have met him last year. I wish I was able to see him a few more times but the memories I have of him, I will cherish forever…

    1. Thanks baby. Appreciate the comments and I know he thought the world of you. And he would have gladly explained to you about the ‘bears’ in this part of Newfoundland 😉

  14. Jonathan: You truly new him. How fortunate we all were to be in his midst. I have sooooo many memories of being at the Riggs’. Uncle Clar will truly be missed but I feel blessed to have to have been influenced by him in so many ways. Love and Hugs to all
    Elizabeth Mitchell nee Hunter Pickering ON

  15. Such great words to describe your grandfather Jonathan. He was a very kind man towards anyone he met along the way in his daily life. I’ve heard many a wonderful things from my family about him often. My mother is Aunt Lyla’s sister Betty Lou from Florida. Sending you, your family, Uncle Phil, Aunt Lyla and all his family, friends who love him condolences and prayers. He will be missed by all he knew

    1. Thank you Janie. Appreciate the kind words. He loved nothing more than welcoming guests to his house. Always had a smile on his face and a story to share.

  16. Thinking of you all at this very sad time in your lives. Mr. Riggs was such an amazing person. He had a heart of gold and was loved by all who knew him.He sat right behind me in the church choir for years and I just need to close my eyes and I can hear that beautiful Baritone voice and I remember he was the only one we ever called upon to sing the blessing at all of our church sales and suppers.He certainly was a shining example of how a person should live a good life.May God grant you all the strength to part from your loved one for awhile and I pray that all your wonderful memories will give you much comfort in the days ahead. Please accept my deepest sympathy and RIP MR Riggs

  17. Hello Jon, I knew your grandfather from The Terra Nova River, He was fishing the upper salmon pools well into his nineties! I have spent many an evening with Phil Riggs Talking about your grandfathers many adventures over the years. We have a lovely picture of 2 caribou in front of your grandfathers cabin in our photo book at the cabin (Fools Paradise) I have many fond memories of your grandfather returning from a days fishing. My grandfathers name was Jack Penney. Many can only dream of the charmed life your grandfather enjoyed on the Terra Nova River, your grandfather lived that dream. Sadly many of the old timers are now gone from Terra Nova River, Jim Oldford, Jack Penney, Les Warren, Skip and your grandfather just to mention a few, their memories will live on in stories for years to come! His life will be celebrated I’m Sure! Me and My parents, Sam and Donna Hancock are heading up Terra Nova River this weekend, Mr. Riggs will also be there I’m sure.

  18. An absolute amazing man, and an inspiration for all. Even at age 101, he still told me a story about a cityboy who’d come down to the Terra Nova and didn’t help him scoop up what he considered as the biggest fish he ever saw. Even at his age, he described the event in such vivid detail, it was pretty inspiring. He was still sharp as a tack, and he’d often triumph in our family card games. I was extremely proud to call him my Great Granderfather. Like you said, if I could be 1/8th of the man he was, if be a pretty grand human.

    1. Thanks buddy. I’m so thankful and grateful that you got to know him and spend time with him. That was my biggest wish, that you got to know how great a man your great grand father was.

  19. I remember your grandparents and family quite well from my time living in Traytown. I worked at the Glovertown Pharmacy and always remember your grandfather coming in to buy greeting cards; he would always buy blank ones especially for your grandmother because he wanted to put his own thoughts and writing on them. Such a sweet sweet family! He was a blessing to this world indeed!

    1. Thank you Tina, yes he had a way with the written word. He would send me a letter every few months, written by hand to tell me about his adventures up the river. He will be missed.

  20. Your remembrance to your grandfather has been a real comfort to us and especially, Barb (Saunders), who was so saddened by your grandfathers passing, but also by the fact that she was not there to honour him with the family. I have been a member of the Saunders family for 45 years and a visit to NFLD.was never complete without a visit to Uncle Clar’s for some good company, a good meal, and a game of cards. I remember first meeting your grandfather when the Maple Leafs were Stanley Cup champions in the late 60’s, He was a proud Leaf fan then and still was when I talked to him about his beloved Leafs last year.
    A big hug for everyone.

  21. Hello Jon, just wanted to tell you I loved your tribute to Uncle Clar! You encapsulated the essence of the man I’ve known and loved all my life. It was especially touching to watch the video. It was like being back in his little house in Traytown. Your grandfather was a remarkable man who leaves an unfillable void. Your cousin Barb

  22. Jonathan you truly have your grandfather ‘s gifts for writing and caring about others. It was wonderful having you with me ,as grandpa was going to be with the Lord.

  23. Hi Jon. This is your old friend Margot (and Steve) Lane, from Atlanta, writing. I recently heard from your mom about the passing of your grandad. We are so sorry to hear of that and we know he was such a huge and important part of your life and that you will greatly miss him. We were able to meet him a couple of times in Ontario and he was a dear, sweet man! We read your blog about him which was wonderful and the video of him is so precious!
    We are hoping to be able to see you and Theda and your mom, and maybe the baby this summer since we will be in Calgary in August. Also we are planning on leaving the US and moving to Calgary next summer.
    Love and blessings to you and Theda!

  24. Awwwww… awesome story…wonderful man… We met Phill and Lila in Myrtle Beach… he spock very highly of his dad… great friends… looking foreward to seeing them in April…. 💖💖

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