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two weeks ago tomorrow

December 8, 2013

Tomorrow marks two weeks since my father-in-law left his earthly body and went to be with the Lord. How does the old saying go? “You don’t know how much you’ll miss someone until they’re gone.” Turns out it’s true.  We miss our dad more than we imagined we would.  

After my father-in-law passed, Joe’s brother leaned over his “Pops” and said what all of our hearts bittersweetly felt…

“I’m glad you’re home.”   

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{An excerpt from Bill Rigney’s obituary that Joe wrote along with family pictures}

On November 25, 2013, William “Bill” Rigney finished his earthly race and went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bill was a devoted husband, loving father, proud grandfather, and faithful friend.

Bill was born in Oakland, California on July 28, 1945 to Bill and Paula Rigney. Bill Sr. was a baseball man, playing and managing for the New York (and then San Francisco) Giants, the Los Angeles Angels, and the Minnesota Twins. Bill Jr. grew up at the ballpark, rooting for the home team and playing pepper with his hero, Willie Mays.

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He graduated from the University of California-Santa Barbara in 1967 with a degree in History, but chose to follow in his father’s footsteps, working for numerous minor league baseball teams, including the Phoenix Giants, Daytona Beach Dodgers, and the Montreal Expos. In 1975, he took a job with the Chicago Cubs, who sent him to Midland to be the General Manager of their AA team, a position he held for six years.

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1979 was a big year for Bill. The Sporting News named him the AA Executive of the Year for his success with the Midland Cubs. More importantly, he met Greta Reese, daughter of former Odessa Mayor Jim Reese, and the two began dating. Soon enough, Bill had to choose between staying in baseball (and risk being sent all over the country) or leave the sport and chase the red-headed girl from Odessa. Faced with a choice between working in his first love or pursuing his true love, Bill wisely opted for the latter, and the rest, as they say, is history. Bill married Greta on June 20, 1981, and he never got over the fact that she said, “Yes!” and continued to say “Yes!” until his dying day.

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After leaving baseball, Bill spent the rest of his career in the oil business, working for Permian, Scurlock Permian, Phibro Energy, Basis, and then Genesis Crude Oil before retiring in 2007. As successful as he was in the oil business, his deepest passions lay elsewhere. He coached Little League for his three sons, served as a Cub Scout leader, played golf, went fly-fishing, and ate mint chocolate chip ice cream. He could always be found at home games for the Midland Cubs (then Angels, then Rockhounds), sitting with his family in their seats on the third-base side.  Bill served on numerous boards over the course of his life, including the Midland Jazz Festival, Hillcrest School, the Easter Seal Foundation / Permian Basin Rehabilitation Center, and Midland Junior Baseball Association.

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In 1990, Jesus Christ entered Bill’s life and changed him forever. He was baptized at First Baptist Church, Midland, and later became a member at Stonegate Fellowship, where he was an usher and a youth group leader. The gospel of God’s grace had a profound impact on Bill, adding a deep humility and a servant’s heart to his bright eyes, sly smile, and quick wit.

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 A strong faith in God’s sovereign goodness sustained Bill and his family when he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2007. No one would choose Alzheimer’s for themselves, but Bill and Greta learned that the steadfast love of the Lord enables you to face whatever adventures God sends you with grace, gratitude, and laughter in your heart. His memories may have faded as the disease took him, but none of them were ever finally lost. All of them were written in God’s Book, and his family eagerly awaits the day when we’ll read all of them again with Bill, laughing and celebrating the fact that God really does work all things together for the good of those who love him.

“Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made and I will bear; I will carry and I will save.” Isaiah 46:4.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 9, 2013 1:12 am

    So beautiful and eloquent. What a touching remembrance of him.

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