Doris Wiggins loved to dance

Friday, January 25, 2013 | 7:58 p.m. CST; updated 7:25 p.m. CST, Saturday, January 26, 2013

COLUMBIA — Doris Thomas Wiggins told her friend Pam Seibert about riding to Jefferson Junior High School on horseback.

She attended the school from 1932 to 1934, and graduated from Hickman High School in 1937 as a member of its 11th senior class.

Seibert met Mrs. Wiggins in 1981 when she was hired at MU. The two quickly became friends.

“She was a petite little woman who dressed beautifully. Her hair was always in place,” Seibert said. “She looked as good at 5 in the afternoon as she did at 8 in the morning.”

The pair often went out to lunch and reminisced about how Columbia used to be when they were growing up.

“She’d do the '30s and '40s and I’d do the '50s and '60s,” Seibert said. “It was fun, we were both local people. We would always laugh.”

Mrs. Wiggins, of Columbia, died Wednesday at Lenoir Woods Health Care Center. She was 94. Mrs. Wiggins’ health had been declining since the death of her husband, Ed Wiggins, last May.

Mrs. Wiggins was born to David and Lena Denham on Dec. 11, 1918 and grew up on a farm in the Deer Park area, south of Columbia, with two older sisters, Francis Steele and Meribah Oliver.

“She and her sisters were very close,” said her cousin David Jones. “They were marvelous. They got along and they relied on each other.”

Mrs. Wiggins worked as a secretary first for MU Extension and later for the associate dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. She belonged to Professional Secretaries International, which has since changed its name to International Association of Administrative Professionals.

“She did what secretaries do: make sure everything is done correctly and make the boss look good,” Jones said.

When she retired from MU in 1985, Mrs. Wiggins was honored with a celebration thanking her for 44 years of service.

Mrs. Wiggins kept up with MU sports and was passionate about local 4-H clubs, sponsored by MU Extension, which offers educational programs for the community. She met her third husband, Ed Wiggins, at an MU Extension dinner for retirees. 

Mrs. Wiggins was married three times: to J.B. Thomas in 1941, to J.B. Mahan in 1988 and to Ed Wiggins in 2000. She had no children but kept busy with hobbies like cooking and dancing.

“She loved, loved to dance,” Seibert said. “She could cut a rug whenever she felt like it.”

“She liked to do some of the fast steps and I think the husbands only liked to slow dance,” Jones said. “I got to see Doris dance one time. She was really good on her feet.”

Mrs. Wiggins frequented the Saturday Nighter’s Dance Club in the 1950s and 1960s with Mr. Thomas, her husband at the time.

As she aged, Mrs. Wiggins didn’t lose her rhythm, Seibert said.

“Even when I visited her at Lenoir, music would come on and she’d tap her foot in time,” she said. “Sometimes she’d even get up and dance.”

She is survived by her cousins, David Jones, of Columbia, and Howard R. Jones, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, , and nephew Gayle Lampson, of Houston, Texas; her sons-in-law, Kip Wiggins, and Rex Wiggins and their wives, Mary Beth Wiggins and Diane Wiggins, all of Kansas City.

Mrs. Wiggins’ parents, David and Lena Denham, two sisters Francis Steele Denham and Meribah Oliver Denham, and aunt Jamilee Jones died earlier.

Graveside services will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28 at Memorial Park Cemetery, 1217 Business Loop W.

Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani.

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