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WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees

JOHN STARK RIGGS (48)
1912 - 1998
1995 COWBOY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE



The following was prepared at the time of Mr. Riggs' induction.

Stark Riggs is not a fiddle player.
Stark Riggs is not a rodeo roper.
Stark Riggs is not a wallflower at a country dance.

But Stark Riggs is a grateful man:
  • Grateful for the opportunity to be a rancher.
  • Grateful to his ancestors for starting the Riggs Cattle Company.
  • Grateful to his parents who spent their lifetime
    putting these ranches together that he and his family still own and operate.
  • Grateful to his wife, Jane, three sons, one daughter, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, who have worked with him and stood by him during his lifetime.


Stark Riggs is the grandson of posthumous Cowboy Hall of Fame member, Brannick Riggs, and son of John Casey Riggs and Jeannette Mary Brauns. Stark comes form a hard working, close knit pioneer family that has been a part of Willcox for the past 115 years.

For Stark, ridin' and ranchin' in the early days meant:
  • Roundups with a chuck-wagon and horseback (not with a pickup and sand rail).
  • Shipping cattle by rail from Willcox (not with semi trucks at the ranch).
  • Dragging calves to a branding fire and ground crew (not using a branding chute).
  • Coal oil lamps at night (not light bulbs).
Stark has seen it all, from early days to modern times.

As every rancher does, Stark had a favorite horse, a small buckskin named Roycott. Roycott could do anything.

Stark roped a little with Bert Gardner. But they usually roped at home and they just roped for fun. Most of Stark's roping was not in the rodeo arena, but in dragging calves to the branding fire.

If you know a little about the Riggs' clan, you know that Stark's brother Paul can play the fiddle. Now according to Stark's kids, on one occasion Stark wanted to show that he could play the fiddle like Paul. He began playing a song called, "Go Tell Aunt Rhonda the Old Gray Mare is Dead." The kids said it sounded like an old gray mare was dying, and their laughter just about drowned out his fiddle. They never heard their dad play the fiddle again.

Stark Riggs is grateful to his parents for teaching him very early in his life to: be honest, live and let live, and do unto others as you want them to do unto you.

Stark says he has lived in one of the most exciting times where there have been so many changes. "I've seen life go from horse and buggy through Model T days to space age travel."

His friends and family say that rarely do you see Stark without a grin on his face, always ready to "pull someone's leg" just to get a rise out of them. Stark Riggs believes it is much more rewarding to give than to receive, and it is obvious to many around the community who have seen him at dances that he is quite a two-stepper, who can out-dance many of the younger generation.

Although Stark's life has been dedicated to ranching and all that it entails, he has given time to his community through three years of service on the Valley Telephone's Board of Directors.

Today at age 83, Stark is still ranching. He is still at it everyday. Stark said, "I wouldn't last long if I quit."

Stark has lived through a world of changes. When asked if he would change anything if he could, he said, "I might change a few little things, but I'd never leave the ranch. I'll never sell out. Money don't mean that much to me."

Stark represents his pioneer family, as well as what it means to be a rancher, as he is inducted into the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame.