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Ruby Lee Briggs


1916 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Ruby Lee Briggs Obituary
Ruby Lee Briggs died quietly in her sleep in her home in Durango on June 5, 2017. She was 100 years old, just 2 months shy of 101. Mrs. Briggs was born in Deport, Texas on August 5, 1916, to James Thomas Wright and Mary Elizabeth (Blissett) Wright. the oldest of 7 children she grew up on the family farm, attending the local 1-room schoolhouse in the winter months, picking cotton and helping with the usual farm chores in the summer. "We weren't rich but we weren't poor, either, as we always had enough food and a good place to live, too." She would laugh when she recalled how they would make the kids' underwear out of used flour sacks, and the girls made dolls out of cucumbers from the garden. She completed high school in Port Arthur, Texas, while rooming with an aunt, and met her future husband, William M. "Bill" Briggs, on a Methodist Church scavenger hunt there. They were married in 1936 at the Briggs' home in Port Arthur where she remained with her young son and baby daughter while her husband served in the army in Europe during the war. The family moved to Denver, Colorado in 1946, then to Durango in 1952. Mrs. Briggs was primarily a homemaker while her children were young and enjoyed sewing and cooking for them. Later, a part-time secretarial job with the head of the Durango 9-R food services department propelled her overnight into that position when boss suffered a debilitating stroke. She headed that division, without any assistance, transporting cases of supplies to the various schools, creating the menus and doing all of the paperwork until her retirement in 1980. After her husband's retirement they bought a small trailer, naming it "The Brown Palace", and began traveling all over the western US, making many friends wherever they went. Following the death of her husband in 1992 she moved to Grand Junction to be near her youngest son and his family. She returned to Durango in 2012, residing at Sunshine Gardens West until her death. "She never spoke a mean word, always looked for the good in people, and helped in small ways, as she could" a grandson remembered. A great-granddaughter said she "always felt a sense of peace and comfort in her great-grandmother's presence and in her home." A granddaughter says the one word she has for her was "happy", and remembers all the laughter she shared with the family over the years. "She was compassionate, full of love and was interested in the lives of everyone in her family", recalled one daughter-in-law. Another says, "She was my friend, and while she had her opinions, she never interfered. She was my mother longer than my own mother was." Mrs. Briggs was an excellent cook and baker and passed along many of her recipes to family members. A particular favorite was one for very rich, buttery rolls, which became a staple part of every family gathering. While hers remained the "pinnacle of perfection" the tradition is carried on today by her grandson Eric and Rick Kempsell, husband of granddaughter Heather. After much tutoring, they add! As one family member puts it, "What we know for sure is that her life with her husband made us all richer in spirit than we can possibly relate."

Mrs. Briggs was preceded in death by her husband, William M. Briggs; sons Daniel D. Briggs and Douglas E. Briggs; daughter Rebecca Jo Briggs; and grandson Glenn Briggs.

She is survived by daughter Patricia A. Hamilton, Durango, Colorado; granddaughters Danlyn (Lou) Iantorno, Thornton, Colorado; Heather (Rick) Kempsell, Westminster, Colorado; Hilary (Chance Kittle) Briggs, Grand Junction, Colorado; Jenny Briggs, Durango, Colorado; grandsons Eric Hamilton, Woodland, Washington; and Christopher (Molly) Hamilton, Durango, Colorado; brother James Wright, Paris, Texas; 10 great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Mrs. Briggs asked that no memorial service he held but the family will gather in Durango later this year to remember her and share all the wonderful memories of a life well lived. She indicated before her death that, should anyone wish to, they might contribute to the Salvation Army in her honor.
Published in The Durango Herald on July 6, 2017
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