|Robert Forest Riggs died at 96 in Charlottesville VA on January 20, 2023|
Inventor Robert Forest Riggs
By Bob Weaver
Inventor Robert Forest Riggs sprung from Calhoun's Buckhorn Holler, a narrow, barely accessible valley near the Village of Hur, where his father was born.
Riggs, 91, of Charlottesville, Virginia, is a graduate of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has over 50 patented devices, some of which have become important to international commerce and the nation's national security.
Much of his inventive work was done during the "Cold War" of the 20th Century.
He continues to write scholarly papers related to physics.
Riggs said, "The sum total of my rewards for these things have amounted to a few thousand dollars. Contrary to popular myth, inventions are like works of art - they are products of intuition, not products of mathematics or logic."
"The wealth ensuing from most good inventions goes into company coffers or the federal treasury."
"If we are to maintain technological supremacy in the world, we must give our young inventors ample reward and honor, and not give reward and honor to those who have had nothing to do with the inventions," Riggs concluded.
Robert Riggs' grandparents, Joseph Samuel (1866-1940)) and Sarah E. Kerby (1869-1931) built their home on Buckhorn (left fork of Barnes Run) about 1920. Joseph was a carpenter, their three sons becoming electricians and their four daughters becoming teachers.
Riggs was the son of Jennings Forest "Biz" Riggs, who died in 1999 at the age of 96, a former chief engineer and electrician at the state Capitol, and a consultant for many contracting firms around the state.
Riggs family and neighbors in 1930s
Joseph Riggs was the son of 1849 early-comer to Calhoun's Barnes Run, Kisare (numerous spellings) Slider Riggs. Kisare was married to David Riggs, who died in a logging accident is 1859. She then married blind Civil War soldier Alexander Buck.
All the Riggs and Sliders in this part of the world are their descendants.
Former Calhouner, the late David B. Hathaway, who went on to an education career in Ohio, wrote fondly of his friend, Robert Riggs, in the early 1940s.
"Growing up in Calhoun County in the 30's and early 40's, I was always interested in music, photography and things electrical."
"The term electronics was not in common use then."
"My good friend Bobby Riggs had moved to Charleston with his family, but he always kept me on the cutting edge of things scientific."
"He was a brilliant kid, who went on to make significant contributions to our country," Hathaway concluded.
Robert Riggs wrote a fictional book under a pseudonym set in Calhoun County, using Coonskin County, with a fascinating set of characters.
Gathering at Riggs Homestead 1930: (Lower Photo L-R)
Fred Riggs, Robert Riggs (baby in arms) held by Grandma Riggs, Joseph Riggs, Betty Lamb (child standing), Vergie Riggs, Eva Riggs, Billy Lamb (child in front), Commodore Dewey Riggs, Emma Riggs (wife of Fred), Olan Lamb, Velma Huffman Riggs and her husband Rev. Harold Huffman
(Left) David Hathaway (WWII) during KP at Camp
Adair, Oregon in 1943; (Right) Bobby Riggs standing
in front of Rainbow Hotel in Grantsville, about 1940