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                                    Riggs High

                              Theodore F. Riggs




Date of Birth: July 7, 1874

Hometown: Pierre, SD

Date of Death: May 30, 1962


Theodore Foster Riggs was born at Hope Station, Dakota Territory, opposite Ft. Sully, on July 7, 1874. His younger years were spent on the ranch at Oahe with his father and all his vacations from college were spent on the ranch. Riggs attended college at Beloit College in Beliot, WI, and graduated in 1983 with a B.A. degree. Then he transferred to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, and graduated in 1903 with a M.D. degree.


Dr. Riggs returned to Pierre, refusing several offers to practice in the East. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Stephen Riggs, his uncle, Alfred Riggs, and his father, Thomas Riggs, who had given their lives as missionaries to the Dakota Indians. He hoped, as a doctor, he might find similar opportunities. He found there were such opportunities and created no racial distinctions in his practice of medicine. He was able to speak Sioux and this helped him with his Indian patients. He was a "horse and buggy" doctor, driving long distances to ranch homes in even the most severe winter weather performing emergency surgery on Kitchen tables if necessary.


Dr. Riggs helped the Benedictine Sisters develop St. Mary’s Hospital from the old Park Hotel into an acceptable hospital and, in 1930, into the modern St. Mary's structure. He also helped the Sisters in organizing a nursing school, granting the RN degree after three years of training. Dr. Riggs had the pleasure of presenting diplomas to many young women whose birth he had officiated.

During his high school and college years he was interested in football and track. In his later years he remained interested in football. Several good drop-kickers from Pierre High School learned their technique from the gray-haired doctor that frequented the practice field.


Dr. Riggs received the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America and he was the recipient of the Legion of Honor from the Kiwanis Club. He also received the District Service award by the S.D. Medical Association. The Pierre high school building was named Theodore F. Riggs High School in his honor. The public recognized "Ted Riggs Day" on May 16, 1948.


His Dakota Indian name is Tiolowan, meaning Song in the House.



Riggs High 1963

New Gym Dedication 1-13-63

Riggs High Today

Thanks to Larry Kleinschmidt (Class of 64)
for allowing us to use these photos