State Politics

Fred Riggers made Idaho Capitol a friendlier place

nmohan@idahostatesman.com

Fred Riggers, enjoys a brief conversation at the Statehouse March 7, 2013. Riggers, is a fixture at the Statehouse during the Idaho Legislative session, greeting everyone and even directing traffic for visitors looking for the right committee meeting.
Fred Riggers, enjoys a brief conversation at the Statehouse March 7, 2013. Riggers, is a fixture at the Statehouse during the Idaho Legislative session, greeting everyone and even directing traffic for visitors looking for the right committee meeting. doswald@idahostatesman.com

For 17 years, Fred Riggers sat alongside journalists and lobbyists attending the Idaho Legislature every year, calling the Statehouse “the best comedy club in town.”

Riggers died Tuesday. He was 73.

Though he joked about the Legislature, Riggers said he respected lawmakers and that common perceptions of legislators are, at least partially, wrong.

“They have to be pretty good just to make it here,” he told the Lewiston Tribune in 2013. “There are three lessons for getting things done here — be polite, be polite and be polite. Coming in with a chip on your shoulder doesn’t work.”

Riggers’ interest in politics began after the loss of his sight. He moved to Boise from his home in Nezperce to go to school to learn to live with his blindness. After a single field trip to the Capitol to see the Legislature in action, he was hooked.

“I had a terrible time the first year, year and a half. When you’re disabled, people shun you. But I kept trying,” Riggers said.

He said eventually lawmakers and lobbyists got to know him and he felt welcome in the statehouse. Not wanting anything from them helped to get him to that point.

Though Boiseans may know him as the blind guy at the Capitol, Riggers spent his life as a farmer and volunteer firefighter and, later, an advocate for the blind in Washington, D.C.

A viewing is set for Friday, April 29, 2016, 5-7 p.m. at Summers Funeral Homes, 1205 W. Bannock Street, Boise. A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 30, 2016 at Trinity Fellowship Church, 300 N. Latah, Boise. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to a charity of your choice.

Memories and condolences can be shared on Riggers’ memorial webpage at www.summersfuneral.com.

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