Michaelangelo Thomas Riggio
Teacher, historian, loving husband and father

Teacher, historian, loving husband and father

Michael Riggio, known among family and friends as Mickey, died peacefully in his sleep on April 24, 2013 after recurrence and complications from cancer. He was 76.

Mr. Riggio, a 34-year resident of Claremont, died with dignity and courage, family shared. His loving wife was at his side and his daughter, son and daughter-in-law were with him only moments before.

The son of Sicilian immigrants Giacomo and Sarafina Riggio, he was born in 1937 in Detroit, Michigan, then moved with his family to California in 1946. As a young boy, he worked in packing houses in Pico Rivera. Later on, he worked various jobs in construction.

Mr. Riggio earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Loyola University, followed by a master’s degree in history from Cal State, Los Angeles. He met his wife, Annie Laurie, when both were living in the same apartment complex in West Covina. They were married in June of 1964.

Mr. Riggio taught history, government and psychology for 32 years at Arroyo High School in the El Monte Union High School District. He started the school’s Advanced Placement program, worked as a Mentor Teacher and was influential in both the California Teacher’s Association and the National Education Association. He inspired many students to overcome personal challenges and to go on to college and lead successful, happy lives.

Mr. Riggio was deeply involved in the education of his own children, Christopher and Stephanie, both of whom attended Foothill Country Day School and the Webb Schools in Claremont. He volunteered his expertise as a consultant and was a firm supporter of the character-developing aspects of the schools’ curricula. He was active in Webb’s transition from an all-boys institution to a co-educational one with the 1981 addition of the Vivian Webb girls school.

Mr. Riggio’s family also benefited from his talent for cooking. He was known as “the master of the barbecue” and for his delicious Italian cooking. His specialties included savory meatballs and marinara sauce prepared from scratch. During school vacations, Mr. Riggio loved to travel with his family, both around the United States and overseas. Some of his more memorable trips included vacations in Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, Norway, Italy, Greece, Turkey and the British Isles. The Riggios also loved the desert and enjoyed numerous trips to Joshua Tree.

Mr. Riggio had a true enthusiasm for life, according to his family. He was a voracious reader, an incredible storyteller and an expert historian. He enjoyed golf and was a true-blue Dodger fan. He also delighted in horseracing, and made a point of heading to Santa Anita Park a couple times a year to try his luck betting on the ponies.

“He loved animals and was an embodiment of St. Francis of Assisi,” family related. “He was compassionate, kind, patient and supportive—always loving and smiling.”

Mr. Riggio is survived by his wife, Annie Laurie; by his son, Christopher; by his daughter, Stephanie, and by many grand-pets.



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