Port Norris Legends

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Legends of Port Norris

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William H. Riggin
b.March 8, 1918
d. January 17, 2018

The son of Legend Sheriff Bill Riggin, William H. “Bill” Riggin was born in Port Norris March 8, 1918, in his Grandfather’s house on the corner of Brown and High Streets. He would become the fourth generation of Riggin and Riggin, the oyster and clam business started by his Great Grandfather Lewis Riggin in 1860.

Life on the Delaware Bay began at age six, when young Bill accompanied his father for two weeks on his oyster boat. He had no working duties then but by age twelve, Bill was put to work. Among his early jobs was unhooking fish for fishing parties.

When Bill’s father was elected Sheriff, the family had to move to Bridgeton. A fortuitous move, as it was there that he met his wife, Pauline "Polly" Lasenko. The high school sweethearts married in 1940, and would go on to have three children, Barbara, Kathleen, and William, Jr.

In 1941, Bill took over as head of the family business. In 1953, with the oyster industry in decline, he would merge with Robbins Bros., creating Riggin and Robbins. His oyster boats were modified to catch clams, with great success. They sold surf clams all over the United States. In 1962, he again merged, this time with Gorton’s Seafood, a New England company. In 1968, they were acquired by General Mills, which built a large processing plant in Millville.

Since retiring in 1983, Bill has remained active with his oyster business William P. Riggin and Son.

On November 16, 2008, Bill Riggin was recognized as a Living Legend of Port Norris.
Source: William H. Riggin

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William P. Riggin


Obituary for William H. Riggin

WILLIAM HALEY RIGGIN, 99, of Port Norris died Wednesday, January 17, 2018, at the Maurice House under hospice care. Born in Port Norris, he was the son of William P. and Mary Hinson Riggin.

Bill resided in Port Norris for 96 years. He would become the fourth generation of Riggin and Riggin, the oyster and clam business started by his great grandfather, Lewis Riggin in 1860.

When Bill’s father was elected Sheriff, the family moved to Bridgeton where he met the love of his life, Pauline “Polly” Lesenko. They married in 1940.
In 1941, Bill took over the family business. He later merged with Robbins Brothers, creating Riggin and Robbins. He later merged with Gorton’s Seafood which resulted in the building of the Gorton plant in Millville.
Since retiring in 1983, Bill remained active with his oyster business William P. Riggin and Son.

He was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Port Norris. His family was one of the greatest joys of his life. Bill was honored as a 2008 Living Legend by the Port Norris Historical Society for his contributions to the community.

He was predeceased in death by his wife of 77 years, Polly, who passed away on January 13, 2018. He is survived by his daughters, Barbara Dale Guardiola and Kathleen Ross, his son, William P. Riggin, II (Mary). He was the proud grandfather of Bryan Reiners (Stacey), Christopher Reiners (Beth), Lindsey Gioielli (Anthony), Jonathan Riggin (Lindsey), Rebecca Duncan (Gary). There are 9 great grandchildren and 3 great great grandchildren. He is survived by his sister, Jean Comuso and a niece and nephew. 

Private joint graveside services were held at Overlook Cemetery in Bridgeton.
Memorial contributions honoring Bill can be sent to the First United Methodist Church of Port Norris P.O. Box 123 Port Norris, NJ 08349.

Bill Horseman and Bill Riggin in the Riggin home basement where Bill kept all his treasures. Including his first dollar he made.

Bill Riggin and Bill Horseman.

Bill Horseman presenting to Bill Riggin.


In Memory of Bill

Dear Billy, Dale, and Taffy
We are sooo sorry about your parents. Just know that we are thinking about you and praying for you. Jane and Susan Bradway
January 21 at 06:07 PM

The Riggin Family - We offer our condolences once again in the loss of Bill. He was a true Port Norris legend who will not be forgotten. Thinking of you all during this difficult time. Sincerely, Port Norris Friends, Carole (Cobb) and Jim Robbins
January 18 at 10:51 PM

Mary and Bill sorry for your loss I know what your going through will pray for you both love Frank and family
Frank Webber - January 18 at 10:24 PM

Dale,Taffy, Mary and Bill,
My heart aches for you. I am so sorry for you loss. Memories are the legacy of love: two_hearts: Donna Pettit - January 18 at 10:08 PM

So sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. True love never dies and lives on forever with all
your cherished memories. May the entire Riggin family take comfort in knowing
that Polly and Bill are still together with each other as was intended and one day you all we be together again. Bless you all.
Love, Robin Metsger Quinn
January 18 at 10:04 PM

Dear Dale, Taffy, Bill and Mary, my heart was torn again knowing your dad is no longer here. He was such a good friend to my famiy, especially my brother & me. He fought the good fight and was victorious gaining entrance to eternal rest along with his beloved Polly. A knowledgeable waterman his entire life, another link between the generations is gone but he will be long-remembered for his humor, his laugh, his businessman’s mind and his concern & prayers for others. You have been blessed to be his family.
Linda Lee Reeves - January 18 at 09:13 PM

Dear, Billy, Dale, Taffy and families.

Our hearts are filled with great sadness for your family.
We will cherish the memories of this Giant of a Man, for his, Generosity
and Compassion.
God Bless! Harry and Mariea
Mariea & Harry Moore - January 18 at 08:27 PM

Bill and Family, Sending our sympathy for the loss of two great people they had a good long life and are now at rest together in the arms of God.
Barb and Keith Moore January 18 at 03:32 PM

Aunt polly and uncle Bill, you will be missed.
Love, the Hollinger family
Debi Hollinger - January 18 at 02:32 PM

Obituary for Pauline E. Riggin

PAULINE “POLLY” E. RIGGIN 98, of Port Norris died Saturday January 13, 2018 at the Maurice House under Hospice Care. Born in Bridgeton, NJ she was the daughter of the late Max and Anna Benshowsky Lasenko and the wife of William H. Riggin. Polly was formerly of Bridgeton and resided in Port Norris for 78 years. She was a former School Teacher for the Commercial Township Board of Education and was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Port Norris. Her family brought great joy and love into her life.

Surviving are her husband of 77 years, William H. Riggin, son, William P. Riggin (Mary), II, daughters, Barbara Dale Guardiola and Kathleen Ross, grandchildren, Bryan (Stacey) Reiners, Christopher (Beth) Reiners, Lindsey Gioielli (Anthony), Jonathan (Lindsey) Riggin, Rebecca (Gary) Duncan, 9 great grandchildren, 3 great great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. 

Private graveside services will be held at Overlook Cemetery in Bridgeton.
Memorial donations may be made to the First United Methodist Church of Port Norris P.O. Box 123 Port Norris, NJ 08349.

In Memory for Polly

Bill, Mary, Taffy, Dale, and Family,
Our heartfelt condolences are with each one of you in the passing of your loving mother. Pollie was an exceptional, sophisticated lady, who lived by example with compassion and love. Her kind ways and pleasant smile brought sunshine to all she met. She will be truly missed. Losing a loved one is never easy, but through the precious and treasured memories, your mother will live on in your hearts forever. May God give you strength and peace during these difficult times. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Joe and Mary Linda Lacotte
January 20 at 12:41 AM

Mary and Bill very sorry to hear of your loss my prayers are with you love Frank webber and family Frank Webber - January 18 at 10:20 PM

Bill, Our deepest sympathy to you and your family in the loss of Polly. She was a very special lady. God bless and comfort you all.
Old Port Norris Friends, Carole (Cobb) and Jim Robbins
January 17 at 07:53 PM

I want to send my condolences to the entire Riggin family. Polly was such a kind
and loving person. I loved her smile and can remember that everytime she saw me she would say "Hi Robin, how are you doing?" I can still hear her voice. May all of you feel the warmth of her surrounding you at this time, and remember all the great times you had together.
Sincerely, Robin Metsger-Quinn January 16 at 11:19 PM

My deepesr sympathy to Bill Sr; Bill Jr; Dale and Taffy this is the time when memories are so important loving thoughts to you all
Bill Sr's ' cousin Joan Riggin Harper -January 16 at 8:34 PM

When the Lord calls our loved ones home, he leaves a gift of memories in exchange. Hold on to your memories and let them guide you during this time of sadness. Polly will be missed. Donna Pettit - January 15 at 10:30 PM

Dear Riggin Family, 
We are sorry to hear of Polly’s passing. We will keep your family in our prayers. 
Bill & Kim Horseman, Lew & Betty Tomlin
Kim Horseman - January 15 at 08:37 PM

Dear Bill, Dale, Taffy and Billy,
Port Norris has lost a true symbolism of beauty, grace and dignity. Our deepest condolences. God Bless you all. 
Harry & Mariea Moore January 15 at 07:58 PM

My heart hurts to think that Polly is no longer here. She is a part of my earliest memories of Port Norris. I see her as a young mother with her friends in the sweet shop having ice cream enjoying a time with them & their children. Then I see her at the skating rink in Millville along with her young family enjoying fellowship with the Port Norris Methodist Church Youth Fellowship. Again, beautiful as ever, visiting Riggin & Robbins on a summer's day up from the 'shore. And in these later years, hardly changed, much-read and a great conversationalist, still caring about others. I am so sorry for the world's loss but happy for Heaven's gain. You have been the fortunate ones. Bill, you made a wise choice when you took her as your bride. Linda Lee Reeves - January 15 at 02:32 PM