Ask about Grandpa

One of our long term projects is a video we’re producing about the life of William Riggs. His video will likely be the first family member we feature whose last name is not Westover.

I was quite young when Grandpa Riggs passed. But I do have a living memory of him.

The interesting thing to me about Grandpa Riggs isn’t so much my limited memories of him but rather the fact that his influence continues to be felt and cherished even now, nearly 50 years after he passed.

He led the most ordinary of lives and yet he endures in the memory of his children and grandchildren in a special way.

You should ask about Grandpa.

I guarantee you’ll hear stories of integrity, of faith, of enduring adversity, of humility and of strong family ties.

Grandpa Riggs was not a man of means and he held few positions of prominence. Outside of his family I’m not sure many remember him. But within the family he is legendary and his story is one you must simply discover. Listen to how is he talked about — I guarantee it will teach you a lesson about yourself.

Grandpa Riggs inspires me today in many ways. His brand of honesty, high personal standards, and strong-but-quiet influence are rare qualities.

I have had the opportunity to learn about Grandpa Riggs from my father, my grandparents, my cousins and from my great aunts (his daughters). I have a few collected writings about his life and was recently studying them as part of the video project. And while I cannot claim much in the way of personal experience with him I feel his influence profoundly. Through my family I have come to appreciate him.

This thought came to me in the middle of the night — a night when I went to bed with Grandpa Riggs on my mind.

I was contemplating his situations in adversity — the fact that he lived in poverty much of his life and successfully raised a family under those conditions. I thought of the trials he faced in losing an older child to death and in handling the long term illness of his wife. Of all of his life circumstances there are several that I could dwell on but for whatever reason his missionary service keeps coming into my mind.

Will Riggs was one of our earliest family members to serve a proselyting mission — but we have a scant record of his experience and service.

Here we are, more than 100 years since he served, and I’m wondering how his missionary service shaped and influenced the rest of his life. How wonderful it would be to know more about that experience.

Grandpa Riggs left only a brief one-page summation of his life behind, that I know about. Perhaps there is, somewhere out there, a journal or recollection of his personally from that period in his life. I just don’t know.

In thinking about this as we work on his video I am inspired to ask about the missionary service of all family members.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could archive something from living family members who served that could be written for future generations?

I long ago learned not to ignore these kinds of feelings when working on family history. They come from somewhere.

So part of our effort this year will begin to collect and archive some missionary experiences from family members. I will reach out to others in the family I know that have served and I ask here publicly for your efforts in this regard.

Who knows? Perhaps when your 100 year anniversary of service arrives a great grandchild might be curious enough to want to read it.

Jeff Westover
Jeff Westover

Husband, father, Latter-day Saint, 11th generation American, and web geek currently residing in Smithfield, Utah. Please visit my website at

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