Jack Riggs, longtime voice of Michigan racing, dies
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Jack Riggs, the longtime voice of racing at
Mr. Riggs also announced Thoroughbred races at several tracks across the country and in
Mr. Riggs was born Sept. 28, 1929 in Glendale, W.V., a suburb of Wheeling, to Cecil H. Riggs, a lawyer, and Charlotte Cunningham Riggs, a nurse. Cecil died when Mr. Riggs was only two years old, and thereafter he spent several happy years living in Westin, W.V., with the family of a beloved aunt. After his mother remarried Edward C. Raffetto, Mr. Riggs and his sister, Nancy, and brother, Edward, traveled with their parents for periods in Massachusetts, South Carolina, China, the Philippines and Rhode Island, as required by his stepfather\'s duties as a career naval officer.
Mr. Riggs began announcing when, while working as a part-time reporter for the Asbury Park Press during high school, he met and impressed Horace Wade, an influential publicity man in the racing industry and Wade asked him to take over a half-hour radio show recorded at Monmouth Park Raceway, New Jersey. By age 19, before he was old enough to attend the races as a patron, Riggs was hired as the announcer at Gulfstream Park in Florida.
Mr. Riggs took time away from announcing to serve in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. Serving as a naval control tower operator in San Diego, California, his life changed when he met and fell in love with a young figure skater named Nancy Scovel. Mr. Riggs married Nancy and brought her to Florida, where he had resumed his announcing duties at Gulfstream Park after being honorably discharged from the Navy.
Over the course of a career that spanned more than 50 years, Riggs called races at tracks in seven states and Windsor, Ont., and appeared on TV and radio for ABC\'s Wide World of Sports, NBC, CBS, Mutual Broadcasting Company, PASS, and many other radio and television stations across the country. Mr. Riggs spent most of his career in the Detroit metropolitan area, calling Thoroughbred races at Detroit Race Course and Hazel Park Race Course and harness races at Hazel Park, DRC, and Northville Downs.
Beside his wife, Nancy, Mr. Riggs is survived by a daughter, Debra (Jim) Bonamici; a son, Jack (Lori) Riggs; and grandfather of Peter and Nicolas Bonamici and Emily and Ryan Riggs.
In addition, Mr. Riggs is survived by his dear sister, Nancy (
A memorial service will be held at St. Mark\'s Episcopal Church,