Dr. Billy Lee `Bill` Biggs
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Dr. Billy Lee `Bill` Biggs , Age: 74
January 04, 1943 -- December 11, 2017

Billy L. Biggs, 74, of Overland Park, KS, passed away December 11, 2017. A celebration of life will be held at 6:00 p.m. Monday, December 18, at Porter Funeral Home, 8535 Monrovia Street, Lenexa, KS. Private inurnment will be at Ft. Scott National Cemetery.

Bill was born January 4, 1943, the son of Arthur and Edythe (Bendure) Biggs, in Ft. Scott, KS. Bill is preceded in death by his parents; his aunt, Althea Schasteen; his half-sister, Alma Lou Huggins; his sister-in-law, Lillian Hutchins; and his brother-in-law, Tommy Hutchins. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Martha Hutchins Biggs; two daughters, Tiffany Anne Richard; Kristin Leigh Dittmar and husband Weylin; grandchildren, Alex Richard and partner Andie Smoot; Abby Richard; and Anna Dittmar; aunt, Wanda Jackson; brother-in-law, Robert “Bobby” Hutchins; sister-in-law, Ruthanne Holbert and husband Mac; and many loving nieces, nephews, and honorary grandchildren.

As a child, Bill lived in Hays, KS, then Wichita, KS, before settling in Mission, KS. He graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School in 1961. He attended Pittsburg State University, graduating with a master’s degree in education in 1967. He made his indelible mark at Pitt State in a variety of ways: leading the Trout Hall Quiz Bowl Team to victory over the swaggering fraternities; producing and distributing an underground anti-establishment campus newsletter (each copy of which his future bride picked up and threw away to keep him from being expelled); brightening up the Friendly Tavern with special holiday decorations; dropping in on classrooms from the fire escape; and taking up an office in the union for his work with Peace Corps and People-to-People.

One day at Pitt State, Bill noticed a beautiful girl checking election returns in the Union. His friends dared him to ask her out so he did. She said yes, and he took her to a (free) “Natural Superiority of Women” lecture. Four years later, on August 19, 1967, he married the love of his life, Martha Jane Hutchins.

He spent a year as a history teacher at Carthage (MO) High School and had just started his second year before being called up to spend 14 months “up to his knees in rice paddies” in Vietnam. He fought hard as a member of Charlie Company in Duc Pho, serving as an artillery gunner, company clerk, and resident DJ, and providing much-needed levity to his fellow troops. He was awarded a Bronze Star for throwing a live grenade out of the officers’ tent, and turned down the Purple Heart he was awarded for injuring himself in pick-up basketball game. Upon his return, he moved on to Parkwood High School in Joplin, MO, where he taught political science and history. His daughter, TIffany Anne, was born in 1971, followed by Kristin Leigh in 1976. The Biggs family spent two amazing summers in Stillwater, OK, while Bill worked on and received his doctorate in education from Oklahoma State University.

In 1980, Bill began his administrative career as principal at Moundridge (KS) High School. In 1982, he became superintendent of USD 488 - a consolidated school district for Axtell, Bern, and Summerfield, KS. In 1987, he became superintendent of USD 246 - a consolidated school district headquartered in Arma, KS. During this time, he was an adjunct professor at Pittsburg State University and at Emporia State University. He became a Papa when his first grandchild, Alexander William, was born in 1994. For six months before Tiffany and Alex moved to California, they lived with Bill and Martha. Papa quickly became the only person who could calm Alex at night. In 1997, Bill went back to USD 488, then became a Papa for the second time with the birth of his first granddaughter, Abigail Jane, in 1999. She immediately wrapped him around her finger; Papa was always willing to make “just one more slushie.” Bill and Martha earned frequent flier miles burning a path between Kansas and the grandkids’ hometown, El Segundo, CA. Bill retired from school administration in 2001; after one year of attempting to live the retirement lifestyle, Bill went back to work as Economic Development Director for Marshall County, KS. In 2005, Bill joined his wife and daughter, Tiffany, at Olathe East where he worked as a Quest (gifted program) teacher and Scholar’s Bowl Coach. His greatest joy was teaching in the same building as his wife and daughter - even more so the four years his grandson Alex was in high school. Bill and Martha officially retired in May 2013. One month later, his granddaughter Anna was born, and his job shifted to one of full-time Papa as he and Martha cared for her during the work week, which meant lots of dancing, singing, and marching.

Throughout his career, Bill championed small school districts, participating in an annual small-schools conference and regularly testifying before Kansas congressional leaders. He was also a forward-thinking champion of technology, expanding students’ educational opportunities through interactive distance learning and implementing project-based learning structures that are just now becoming mainstream educational ideas. He cared deeply for each student he served, implementing many initiatives to help them both at school and at home. Much of the time, the work he did and help he gave went unnoticed, as it wasn’t his style to let people know all the good things he did. He discovered students’ needs and took care of them whether they needed hygiene opportunities, learning opportunities, or financial support. There are countless people whose lives were made better because of Bill Biggs. He quietly helped the lives of students in the smallest ways, which had the biggest impact.

Most importantly, Bill believed in the potential of each student. He believed in them, protected them, provided opportunities for them, and entertained them - man, did he entertain them. His high school Spirit Week antics are the stuff of legends, including Blues Brothers skits (his long frame, dance moves, and ability to do cartwheels made him a natural Elwood) and clothes-dropping performances. Past students also fondly remember annual performances as the Cat in the Hat and Abraham Lincoln.

His fun in life centered on whatever activities made his family happy - winning the lottery to attend Michael Jackson’s Victory Tour, annual Christmas-season weekends at Crown Center; making vacations fun with family battlefield re-enactments and playing games in cross-country road trips in small, hatchback cars; and Fox and Geese games in the snowy backyard. Alex and Abby lived for trips to Axtell, where Papa and Grammy would take them exploring, provide them with adventures, and give access to a stockpile of fireworks.

He was intellectually gifted, musically gifted, and the funniest person we know. His imagination was limitless - the stories and songs he made up are legendary. His Arbuckle stories and his classic tune “Booger Up my Nose” are being shared with a new generation of kids. The amount of knowledge in his brain was staggering - he truly knew everything about everything. He loved music and could play anything on the piano by ear - “St. Louis Blues”, “It Ain’t Necessarily So”, and “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” were particular favorites. We danced and danced around the house - acting out the lyrics as “American Pie” blasted on the stereo. His baritone voice rocked us to sleep at night with a medley of Peter, Paul, and Mary songs (“Lemon Tree” was always our favorite). His big smile lit up the room and his irreverent humor kept us on our toes. His dry, intellectual wit was such that one felt really proud when catching one of his subtle jokes. It was really hard to have a bad time around Bill.

He taught us how to race through the mall at closing time so the dogs wouldn’t get us. He taught us that humor can help even the worst circumstances and we sure wish he were here to help us laugh with a well-timed, highly-inappropriate joke. He taught us about music, history, politics, Royals baseball, Chiefs football, and WWF wrestling. He taught us that we can do absolutely anything, but that the most important thing to do is be kind and be true to yourself. And he taught us that if you “have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and you’re wearing sunglasses,” you can definitely make it to the penguin.

He left this world as he lived it - surrounded by laughter, music, and love; taking care of his family; and gazing into his beloved wife’s face.

Additional Service: Celebration of Life
Location: Porter Funeral Home
Address: 8535 Monrovia Street
City: Lenexa
State: KS
Zip Code: 66215
Date: December 18, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Additional Information: No Additional Information Added
Google Map: Click Here to see Location on Map.
Condolences

Jim Super December 13, 2017

Enter your relationship with Dr. Billy Lee `Bill` Biggs Olathe , Kansas

Bill was a good man with a keen sense of humor. I am sorry for your loss.


Monica Berg December 13, 2017

Enter your relationship with Dr. Billy Lee `Bill` Biggs Prairie Village , Kansas

Tiffany I am so sorry for the loss of your father. I'm praying for you and your family.


Marian Hasenkamp December 14, 2017

Worked under him as secretary at the Axtell High School Axtell , Kansas

Sympathy for the family.


Mike Stephens December 15, 2017

Co-Worker Olathe , Kansas

Tiffany m, Martha and family i am so sad for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers. God bless you all.


John Underwood December 15, 2017

Friend Arma , Kansas

I was saddened to learn of Bill's passing. Bill was a good friend who gave me a chance to get into administration. I forgive him for that. Bill was the most intelligent and creative person I ever worked with or knew. He could lighten up any room. Always sad when such good people pass but Bill lived the life he loved and his influence will stay with me forever. Linda and I wish you and your family the peace that God can give. Best and God bless. The Underwoods


Melvin Bedene December 16, 2017

Student at usd 246 Pittsburg, , Kansas

Prayers for the Biggs family. Bill was our Superintendent from my 6th grade year until I graduated in 1995. Martha was our English teacher. I was friends with his daughter Kristen as well. He was an all around good guy who always had the students best interest at heart. For Martha and Kristen, may God be with you during this difficult time.


bel December 17, 2017

Enter your relationship with Dr. Billy Lee `Bill` Biggs Enter your city ,

To the family and friends of Billy please accept my sincere condolences. Look forward to seeing God's wonderful promise fulfilled found at Isaiah 25:8 for the loved ones we have lost in death.


Diane Meyer Dutton December 17, 2017

Former student at Axtell High School Augusta , Kansas

To Tiffany and the entire Biggs Family. I am so sorry for your loss. Remember Dr. Biggs very well during his time in Axtell. Wonderful man. Your family is in my prayers. Diane Meyer Dutton


Lucinda Huggins December 14, 2017

Niece Fayetteville , Arkansas

Martha and family - I'm deeply saddened at the loss of Uncle Bill. He was the missing piece in completing my Mother's life. She never felt alone after he became known to us. What a blessing he was in everyone's life he encountered. He had a profound impact on our family - I will never forget how your family embraced Mom. It just seems fitting that both of them left this earth the same year. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.


Larry Hill December 18, 2017

Co-worker Pittsburg , Kansas

Martha and family, Learned today of Bills passing, I am so sorry for that. Bill gave me a chance to to become a school principal and I was always thankful for that opportunity. I worked under Bill as both a teacher and school administrator. I found him to be very forward thinking and ahead of his time in innovation for schools. A caring superintendent, wanting the help students in any possible way. I learned a lot from Bill and will always remember him. My best wishes for Martha and her kids, and my God grant him peace, althrough God may have to be ready to hear some different ideas on how things should work.


Shari Wilson December 20, 2017

Enter your relationship with Dr. Billy Lee `Bill` Biggs Lawrence , Kansas

I’m very sorry for your loss. It was such a joy working with Bill at Olathe East. His spirit and legend will definitely live on in his stories.


Gary and Susan Lofts December 20, 2017

Enter your relationship with Dr. Billy Lee `Bill` Biggs Arma , Kansas

We are so sorry to hear of Bill's passing. We hope that you find peace in the coming days ahead and treasure the memories you had. We will never forget that wry sense of humor and that extremely intelligent man. God bless you all.


Keith Zeka December 23, 2017

Fellow Teacher and Friend Joplin , Missouri

Martha and family. Our deepest sympathy to all of you. Bill made Parkwood a better school with his teaching and being himself. I valued his friendship in those days. Enjoyed driving back and forth to classes at PSU with him when we were taking administration classes. He was a very fine man.


Bill DeArmond January 01, 2018

2nd Cousin Abilene , Kansas

My condolences to the family.