Obituary of Michael Wayne Riggen Jr.
Michael Wayne Riggen Jr., was born on March 2nd, 1967 in Wurzburg, Germany much to his surprise.
Mike Jr. was greeted by his one-year-old sister, Michelle (Winter). And he was there to welcome additional siblings, Glenn, Brian, Danny, Chad, and Amber.
He was a son, brother, nephew, cousin, uncle, student, teacher, co-worker and bud. The last referring to his friendships, not the beverage. He was also a dad to the animals he loved and cared for.
Michael was known by many nicknames: Mike, Mikey, Macguillicuddy, Mickle, Smelly Tennis Shoe and Uncle Fishy Foot (the last two were self-given monikers).
In elementary school, Mike tested with a high IQ as evidenced by his lightning quick wit. He exercised his funny bone daily and had many experiences performing comedy. He was a natural entertainer.
He loved music too. In school he chose to play the saxophone and loved marching band with its camaraderie and call to excellence. He had a beautiful voice and sang his whole life, learning how to harmonize at a young age. He made music a career through his own business as a karaoke jockey.
Mikey was a creative guy and enjoyed writing stories and screenplays. He also liked working with his hands in the home and garden.
Michael had a fascination with ghosts. He was a member of a group who regularly investigated hauntings.
He is survived by his wife Christine, his dog Hazel, his parents Janet Riggen (Wert), Michael Riggen Sr., his stepparents Michael Murphy, JoAnn Riggen (Davenport), his siblings and their partners, his aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, of which there are many. He’s also survived by his friends, his godparents Tom and Sandy Flowers, and his favorite teacher Ken White who counted Mike as one of his “kids.”
Michael suffered a lifetime with childhood diabetes and spent the last year of his life in a hospital after a terrible fall. He’d returned home hoping for further recovery. He died a few days later from a blood chemistry imbalance which shut down his already weakened heart. Thankfully, his loving wife and dog were up and by his side when he passed, which was his wish. He didn’t want to die alone.
Below are some shared stories of our moments with Mike. And don’t miss out on the rotation of photos above. There is a tribute page (link on the left), if you’d like to share your own stories, and memories of him.
We all miss you deeply, Michael. Thank you for the laughs, and most especially the love, which we still feel every day.
Stories and Memories:
One of my favorite memories with Michael is when we’d go on the annual walk-a-thon. I don’t recall what it was for; it was raising money for some cause. Back then, the walk-a-thons were 20 miles long and they’d weave through neighborhoods we’d never been to. It took all day and around every corner was a mystery uncovered. We had long discussions. About what? I don’t recall. But I loved those adventures with my brother.
We met at Chans. He came up to me and asked me to dance and I said “What took you so long? You’ve been staring at me all night!”
I tried to scare him away with all the bad stories I could about myself. He still asked me out, saying “You seem like a really positive person.”
I always looked up to Mikey as a very funny person and I believe he made me into the goofy ass that I am today.
I will definitely always remember hitting the paper route with him in the snow in the geo metro in Oregon when we would visit.
Fiftieth birthday parties are a big deal in the Riggen family. So, when Mike Jr.’s big day showed up, his big sister, Michelle, my wife, came up with a caper to match the gravitas of the day.
Mike would be recruited by me, in my capacity as a private investigator, to assist me in locating a fictitious miscreant in Oregon where Mike lived.
On the night before the party, I drove around the Milwaukie area with my Watson (Mike) in tow. I had him knocking on strangers’s doors asking if our quarry was there. I made sure to train him first, and told him that the people answering the door would surely lie about the whereabouts of the “bad guy.” I can only imagine how the interchanges between Mike and these poor clueless people went. But I know they were hilarious.
The next day, Mike and I ended our search at the predetermined spot, a furniture store with an upstairs open to the public.
The description of our phantom criminal included one very important point: he had a very prominent and full mustache. I told Mike to be on the lookout for any employees in the furniture store with mustaches.
As we entered, I told Mike to check the upstairs while I took the down.
When Mike reached the top of the stairs, he was greeted by the sight of 30 of his relatives wearing oversized paper mustaches and yelling “Happy Birthday!” I spent the next half hour trying to avoid Mike killing me.
I’m thankful Mike had such a good sense of humor.
There are no end to the swimming pool stories. Once Dad put up the doughboy pool in the back (Thanks Dad!), we were in for hours, making up mermaid stories. We’d swim with legs straight, adding body undulations a la the 70’s TV version of Aquaman. There were contests on who could do consecutive underwater somersaults. And endless water ballet synchronized swimming performances. Each taking a turn adding the next move. Even into our twenties and thirties, when left to our own devices, we’d find ourselves making up new synchronized swimming routines. So much fun.
Did you know Mike was learning Russian?
Did you know he was learning sign language?
Did you know MIke’s aspiration was to be a writer?
Did you know he was one solo flight from getting his pilots license?
Hard to sum up Mike let alone share a story or memory. For me, he was my brother and friend. He stood by my side as best man for 2 weddings.
I’ve been married more than 20 years to a friend from his circle. I had the pleasure of gathering up pictures for his family gathering. It was readily apparent he had the same effect around us all. When you saw him your face softened, relaxed, and got ready to laugh. You were about to be in the presence of a truly thoughtful, witty, and kind person.
I will miss his stories, movie plots, dreams, and laughter. If I ever luck into a genies bottle I’ll use a wish to grant everyone with a visit from Mike. I know the world would be a better place for it. Miss and love you “Brother” and friend.
Our first date was a picnic and I told him if he wanted to kiss me he had to shave of his mustache, which I called a “molestash!” [molester mustache] Next time I saw him it was gone. After that, we were inseparable
I remember the first time I heard him absolutely nail the song “Kryptonite” in a karaoke bar here in Texas. Was shocked at how well he sang it!
One year Mikey and I decided to decorate the side porch at 642 Washington.
We were in our teens. We found a long box that, when filled with a “body,” looked like a coffin. Our body was a stuffed shirt and pants-or a long black dress-I don’t remember. But Mike managed to fashion a head with glowing lights for eyes that we could turn on at will. It felt super high-tech! We made the dummy look like it was crawling out of the box for extra effect.
Of course, we scared the little kids to the point that one was sobbing in the front yard. We felt so bad we never did it again.
I will always cherish the memories I have of Mike when I would hand one of my little ones to him and run off yelling “Uncle Duty!”
I remember the improv that he was doing and of course, the karaoke.
Mike and I had bunk beds in the downstairs bedroom. I got the top bunk. Later we shared the upstairs room to the right. This is at 642 Washington where we grew up. We had separate beds-twin beds. Each night there was an argument about who would turn off the light. We were both too scared to run back to our bed in the dark. Literally we’d put our finger on the switch, stretch our body towards the bed, do a countdown, flip the switch and leap in the air onto the mattress. As I said, we’d always argue who’s turn it was…argue and argue…until Dad yelled up stairs to “Turn off the Damn Light!” Which was always scarier than whatever we’d find in the dark. You’d better believe we made it happen.
Mike was always the fun uncle who messed with the kids at every family event. Even through all his health struggles he continued to show up. It was always crystal clear how much family meant to him. I believe every person who knew Mike could attest to how truly funny he was. He could come up with a witty response to anything at the drop of a hat. I will miss him and the laughter that surrounded him.
Mike and I had our best fun in the bathtub. It seems like we were there for hours, but I don’t recall the bath water ever being cold. We had a bunch of friends with us…our hand puppets! We’d use our fingers and hands to create hand puppet style characters. There was Ducky-Ducky, Alligator-Alligator, Rooster-Rooster, and more…we were so inventive with the names, right?
We’d also soap up each others backs and draw pictures or write words in the foamy suds with our pointer fingers. One would take guesses on what the drawer was creating. It was a great game. He was my very best friend and playmate from day one.
I miss the much younger days when I would wake up early and go on his paper route with him (I literally felt like I was on top of the world!).
Mike almost got kicked in the face in a road rage incident when he was giving me, and I forget who else, a ride in his Mercury Capri! That car eventually got handed down to Glenn and then eventually me.
Mom put together a chest with her wedding dress, wigs, and other fun clothes…oh! and a few ties (Thanks Mom!). We spent hours dressing up for play. Mike and I had our own private stories going, out notably “Mrs. Beautiful and her dog.” You might think Mike was the dog. Nope. He was Mrs. Beautiful. And he was through and through.
Mikey and his brothers and sister enjoyed Halloween. One year was especially memorable to me because Mike wanted to dress up as Santa Claus. He got lots of good comments that year.
I met Mike when he was doing a paper route & I started inserting ads—3 am—He was the only one that was fun & friendly at that ungodly hour. He made it fun to be up that early.
My parents taught us how to water ski. Mike and I and my other siblings spent hours camping, boating, fishing, and water skiing at California lakes. He loved those times. We all did.
His favorite thing to do was dream. He had gotten so good at it, he could control his dreams..lucid dreaming is what they call it. He could think about it and make it happen in his dreams. I’m hoping that’s what the afterlife is like for him.
I miss our private movie theater shows back in the day.
We enjoyed a lot of board games grown up. Our favorite was called Payday. It was a board with a calendar printed on it. One month only. Once your piece moved through the month, you’d hit your pay day and start the month over. Mike and I loved it so much we’d play a years worth, sitting on the floor in his bedroom. I still love payday. The real one, of course! (P.S. Our second favorite game was chess)
He was an amazing person who would always make people laugh out loud, before “lol” was a thing.
Shortly after Mikey passed I came across a stuffed animal he had given me, Mr. Moose. It felt rather serendipitous and brought me back to when I was six or so. I will always remember karaoke with him + his witty sense of humor. I wish I had had a chance to say goodbye. May he rest in peace.
Did you know that Mike knew how to square dance? We took weekly lessons for months and would go to square dance meets. Maybe when we were 10 & 11 years old. It was a blast. He was a wonderful dance partner.
He said that if there was any afterlife, he always told me he would try to get a message to me.
Mikey and Michelle liked to write short plays and perform them for everyone, even the neighbor kids. He made up some especially funny commercials.
His email address was makeUlol@gmail.com
When you kids had your birthdays, Sandy and I would pick you up and take you out. We took Mike to Pier 39 and went into Ripleys Believe It or Not. It was a very pleasant day. That was before he got sick. We really enjoyed having time with him. He was such a sweet kid.
Mike and I love the song “Hotel California” because we knew all the words and we could sing the whole guitar solo. We turned that into a dance, of course. Why not? (More on this song later)
More recently I miss when he would call me and tell me to hurry up and come over there so I could wipe his ass for him because the other nurses didn’t know what they were doing (I wish I could hear that a thousand times over again).
Did you know Mikey studied to be a DJ? The kind on the radio.
Did you know he played the sax in an award winning marching band?
Did you know he did stand up comedy?
Did you know he was a member of Comedy Sportz?
Did you know he was a paperboy for years?
Did you know he used to be a film projectionist?
Did you know he travelled to Latvia to visit a friend?
He will be forever missed and I absolutely cannot listen to “Friends in low places” without tearing up and thinking of him.
He went to Las Vegas by himself, and this is what happened, and it’s hysterical. He went to this hypnotism show. They asked for volunteers, and he volunteered. There were 20-30 volunteers on the stage and they hypnotized them all.The first thing they told them was “you’re a famous Irish step dancer” and he started dancing. He actually LOOKED like an Irish step dancer! They picked him and a couple other people out and they had all the others sit down. They said the ones they picked out are the most susceptible to hypnotism. He was then told to be a stripper and he was dancing all over the stage, flipping his hair he didn’t have. They gave him a blow up doll to make out with and said “Oh, you must be a generous lover!” The most impressive part was the dancing. And he didn’t remember much of it when he woke up. Ain’t that wild?
We went to church together as pre-teens. I don’t know how old we were but Michael and I decided we were going to go to church on our own. We’d get up on Sundays and walk to a church a few blocks away and be there, without our parents or anyone else in the family. We both got baptized together too. We were such weird kids. Even more strangely, we didn’t do church as adults.
We all miss the karaoke.
This is a poem written by Mike’s music teacher, who imagined what it would be like for his sister Michelle:
My Brother’s Passing
The sudden unplanned absence of interactions
creates a void no longer filled,
though the challenges of both time and distance
made them no longer easy, but willed.
I’ll dearly miss our personal connection
of brother, sister, and beyond,
for this now means that I alone
remain of our sibling duo most fond.
Mike’s own personality was plainly shown
by him being himself without pause,
which allowed us to better know him than not,
whatever his purpose, challenge, or cause.
His eternal Peace I wish him fondly
no longer burdened by limitations
that he may again be as he once was,
emboldened with positive inclinations.
Time will kindly grant recollections
of Mike and me, his big-Sister,
and of our interactions, past and recent,
uniquely our own to consider.
Tasks to achieve are numerous and varied
and may well cloud my pain,
while the reality of his passing will indeed
forge my memories forever to sustain.
His Peace I pray for relatives and friends
that in time it be mine as well,
to accept his passing as of God’s plan
and soon my sadness to quell.
Halloween was his favorite holiday. That and Christmas because he got to see the family at Christmas. He liked halloween because he got to dress up. He put together a mad hatter costume and even had snaggley teeth and a hat and a tea cup. He won the costume contest at Chans that year.
When I got married, I asked Mike to put together recordings of songs for my reception, which he did. He added two songs I didn't request. I remember being a little annoyed at the time because I didn't know the songs at all. But he said he thought people would like the songs so I left them there. I have all my reception songs on my phone and when I feel like dancing, I play them. They always play in a very specific order. I never hear the songs he put on there because I usually stop about 6 or 7 songs in.
Stay with me, there’s more to the story.
So Mikey died in the very early morning hours on September 22nd. After getting the call from my mom I got up and decided to play the song Hotel California as a message to him. We used to play the song over and over when we were kids. We made up a dance and loved to sing it, especially miming and singing the guitar parts at the end. Anyway, I played the song and sang along, wondering why I was unable to cry. Afterwards I decided to put my receptions songs on, so I hit play. I was absolutely shocked. I expected to hear the first song I always hear, which is Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye. But instead, one of the two songs Mike put in started playing! I can’t tell you what the song is, because I’ve never looked it up, but the singer was saying things about being there for me and I burst into tears. It was a message from Mike, I’m convinced of it. Even more miraculous…the second song he put in there was the second song that played (!!!) and I sobbed through the whole thing. He was there. He was there with me saying it would be okay and he was still around. Such a miracle. Those two songs had never ever played before and they have never ever played since.
I remember at the wedding of my Dad & Debbie, Mikey and I were standing at the entrance, inviting people in and helping them to their seats.
We started joking around that we should act like secret service agents. Do things like talk to the “boss” on our cuff link radios. Double check people’s names against the guest list and if they weren’t on the list, we would drag them out in a bag. Kick out people for very minor things. Things like sneezing or coughing.
Mike used to come to my “orphan” Thanksgiving for all those who were single & didn’t have family close by. He wasn’t a cook, so his go-to was to bring olives. A can of olives. Hilarious.
A few days after Mike died I had a vision of him. I was not asleep. I saw him walking towards me in the blue shirt he’d been wearing the last time I saw him. He looked happy. He was smiling. I was surprised he was walking because he’d been in that wheelchair for so long. He was holding something, and I couldn’t see it. But I knew it was a cat. He didn’t say it was a cat, I just knew it. And he said “I’m with Sheba.” That was it.
When I talked with my daughter Michelle about it we were puzzled because we knew Mike had only had dogs, and none of them were named Sheba. A few hours later his wife Christine called. Michelle asked her “Do you know if Mike every had any cats?” and she said “Ohhh, yeah, there was this one cat that died from kidney disease and his name was Chester”
Oh. Okay. Hmmm…
Then she said “And we had a really bitchy cat, but she really loved Mike, and her name was Sheba.”
Michelle and I started crying. We didn’t know he had a cat, we didn't know the cat's name was Sheba.
At that very moment I saw another vision of Mike and he high fives me as if saying “Mission accomplished!” Michelle thinks he was trying to get a message to his wife and this was the way he managed to do it.
My first memory of Mikey was in the sink at 642 Washington. Yes! We were both naked and taking our bath. He was in one basin, I was in the other, in the kitchen, of course.
Funny thing, my first memory of him is my first memory of being alive.
He was the great love of my life.