Updated at 3:35 p.m. on Oct. 7
Mike Riggs, Maricopa’s public services director, passed away early Friday morning.
Riggs, 55, a fourth-generation Arizonan, was known in every aspect of his life for his honest, hard-working, common-sense approach, which he learned from his family and from his farming background.
He donated a great deal of his extra time to youth groups, including the Boy Scouts of America, 4-H and church activities.
Riggs is survived by Camie, his wife of more than three decades, six children and several grandchildren.
“It is difficult to quantify this loss, but what we know is there is a palpable hole in this community today,” Mayor Nancy Smith said. “Every long-standing resident of Maricopa understands how great of a man Mike was. His life-long civic and religious dedication to this city has endeared him to all. Even those who didn’t know him personally have surely been impacted by his service.
“His mark will forever be on Maricopa in so many ways that often go uncelebrated,” Smith continued. “From overseeing the maintenance of our streets and advising City Council and senior leadership teams, to the tiniest details in designing landscaping layouts, holiday decorations, building sets for public addresses and events, manning a BBQ station to wow a crowd and always, always being a front-row champion for the residents of Maricopa. Many of the blessings that residents of this city enjoy today are only possible because of his contributions. He was the highest quality of leader and we are endlessly grateful to have called him our friend. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”
City Manager Rick Horst added that Riggs “epitomized what it means to be a model citizen.”
“He represented Maricopa with pride and class and was the type of humble person who was above no task,” Horst said. “One day, you’d find him spraying for mosquitos at midnight and the next morning he’d be right out on the road helping clean up hay from an overturned tractor. He always took every opportunity to serve others, often on his own time and at his personal expense.
“Mike also possessed an uncommon degree of dependability,” Horst continued. “When he got involved in a project, you knew of surety that nothing could stand in the way of him completing the task. His optimistic attitude, enlivening smile and infectious laugh made him a joy to work with. He constantly amazed us with his humor, his knowledge, his stories and his compassion. Mike will be greatly missed and on behalf of the entire city, we extend our condolences and gratitude to his family.”
Riggs’ connection with Maricopa runs deep, as evidenced by the renaming of Riggs Road to honor his legendary family, which farmed and ranched in the region for decades. City officials remember that Riggs always was the first to raise his hand to offer help or to figure out a way to make the impossible happen – with his gift of resourcefulness.
Many of his acts of service also revolved around food, for which he earned a cherished reputation.
The outpouring of shock, grief and support over news of his death was swift on Riggs’ Facebook page.
“So heartbroken, loved that man,” wrote former Maricopa Mayor Christian Price. “He could do anything and he never said no to anything. One of the greatest fun loving ‘servants’ I’ve ever met. A literal heart of gold. He will so be missed.”
City Councilmember Henry Wade wrote: “May God bless and keep you, Mike. You were truly a wonderful man. It was an honor to know and share this Earth with you, sir.”
Vice Mayor Vincent Manfredi called Riggs’ passing “one of the saddest days in the existence of this city.”
“He was just a good guy when good guys are hard to find in this world,” Manfredi said. “Mike was a man that other men looked to for inspiration. He was just a good person that was always willing to get things done. Mike will be missed by everyone that knew him or shook his hand. My condolences to his family and friends.”
Riggs started with the city as a parks crew lead in February 2014 just before the opening of Copper Sky. He would become parks manager and deputy director of community services, before becoming director of public services.
His duties with the city included oversight of the streets, facilities, parks and fleet divisions. He supervised more than 35 employees and managed an annual budget of about $8.5 million.
He had more than 10 years of experience in the management and workings of public parks, recreational facilities and school-district facilities, including Scottsdale and Gila River Casa Blanca School District. He performed lead duties on grounds maintenance at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park and Horizon Sports Complex in Scottsdale, worked on the safety and training board and led several large community-service development projects.
Riggs’ career spanned both the public and private sectors, where he was known for his vast background in agriculture, construction and development.
He had been a project manager/estimator in residential and commercial real estate. For more than a quarter-century, he was as an associate broker and then became a broker, working on land acquisitions and developments in the Southeast Valley, Pinal County and Heber-Overgaard, including Riggs Homestead, Riggs Ranch, Summer Place North, and Mountain Shadow Estates.
Riggs graduated from Arizona State University in 1991 with a degree in agribusiness. In 2008, he completed his Master’s of Science degree at ASU. He held certificates as an arborist, playground-safety inspector, Arizona landscape professional, sustainable landscape manager and parks and recreation professional.
Information on services is pending.
Editor’s note: Vincent Manfredi is an owner of InMaricopa.