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Orval  Elmo Riggs, M.D.

Obituary for Orval Elmo Riggs, M.D.

April 18, 1920 - August 1, 2017
Austin, Texas | Age 97


Orval Elmo Riggs, age 97, from Walnut Ridge, AR, Little Rock, AR, and recently of Austin, TX, died peacefully August 1, 2017 in the home of his youngest daughter, Dianne, where he had lived for the past five years since his wife's death. Orval was born in White Oak, Arkansas on April 18, 1920, the sixth of ten children born to Menona and James Roscoe Riggs. He graduated from Walnut Ridge High School in 1939 and attended Arkansas Tech from 1939 – 1941. He joined the Naval Reserve and trained as a pilot, subsequently serving in Corpus Christi, Texas as a cadet. During WWII, he flew transport airplanes in the U.S. and transported supplies and the wounded in the Pacific, 1942-1945. He was an excellent pilot and was offered the opportunity to become a flight instructor during this period, which he did.

Following his Naval service, he flew as a commercial pilot for a year in Los Angeles, CA. He then attended Stanford University, UCLA and the University of Arkansas, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Arkansas in 1949. In 1953 he graduated AOA from the University of Arkansas School of Medicine (UAMS). He served his internship at St. Louis City Hospital 1953-1954 and practiced general medicine in Walnut Ridge, AR from 1954-1956. He then did a residency in general surgery at UAMS, 1956-1960 and practiced general surgery in Jonesboro, AR, 1960-1966. He trained as a radiologist at UAMS, 1966-1969, then did a year of training in radiation therapy at Vanderbilt University, 1969-1970. He returned to the faculty at UAMS in radiology from 1970-1972 and was in the private practice of radiology, 1972-1978.

His love for surgery pulled him back into the practice of surgery, this time in the form of cardiothoracic surgery training at the University of West Virginia, 1979-1981. He subsequently practiced cardiothoracic surgery in Little Rock and was on the faculty in cardiothoracic surgery at the Clarksburg, WV. Veterans Hospital and the University of West Virginia in Morgantown, WV. He was a member of numerous medical societies and authored a number of scientific articles. He was voted outstanding attending surgeon at the University of West Virginia, 1987-1988. He was board certified in general surgery, radiology and cardiothoracic surgery.

He was a loving husband and father and will be sorely missed by his family. His fascination with medicine was lifelong, and he never tired of reading medical journals and articles, even after his retirement. His other favorite pastimes included playing tennis and watching sports on TV, often watching different sports events on multiple televisions at the same time, a man of ahead of his time. He enjoyed hearing and telling jokes of all kinds, especially corny ones, and never lost his sense of humor or his polite demeanor. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Little Rock for many years where he and his wife, Inez, faithfully attended the Bowen-Cabe class.

After his wife passed in 2012, Orval resided with his youngest daughter Dianne in her home in Austin. For the last two and half years, he was taken care of by three wonderful and loving caretakers. As his health deteriorated, he and his daughter's family all came to see each of them as family and he would often express his concern for them and ask when they would return to see him as they left at the end of their shift. Orval's family would like to express their continuing gratitude and respect for Emma Campos, Yolanda Maldonado and Eusebia Moreno for the exceptional care they provided Orval until the end.

He was predeceased by his wife Inez Waldron Riggs, his son Thomas Richard "Tommy" Riggs MD, his parents, his brothers: Jim, Jack and Claude; and his sisters Ellen Sharp, Mae Blansett, Lorene McKinney, Evelyn LaCoss and Velma Clark. He is survived by his sister, Naomi Bell of Myrtle Beach, SC, his brother-in-law, Tom Waldron of Walnut Ridge, AR, and his daughters, Dianne Riggs Espinoza of Austin, TX and Susan Riggs Runge MD of Ann Arbor, MI and the families of his three children including nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren and many loving nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be held at Weed-Corley-Fish, 3125 N. Lamar Blvd, on Monday August 21, 2017 from 8:30-9:30am followed by a graveside service at 10am at Austin Memorial Park, 2800 Hancock Dr. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association, First United Methodist Church, Little Rock, AR or the charity of your choice.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association, First United Methodist Church, Little Rock, AR or the charity of your choice.

Arrangements By

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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