Mention Bill Biggs in Tulsa and you will get a smile in return.
William Estle Biggs was born on April 1, 1946, in a little town in West Virginia. There are certain days you don’t want as a birthday – December 25, October 31 and April 1 (April Fool’s Day).
If you are born on Christmas Day, you never get the full attention due on a separate birthday. If you were born on Halloween, that’s not a good day to celebrate either.
A birthday on April 1 is rugged for a kid but it’s OK when you grow up.
Bill Biggs is my big brother and he turns 70 this week. He is eight years older than me and he is the presumptive patriarch of the Biggs Clan. (I have an older brother Ben Campbell and sister Peggy Flores).
Bill and I use to joke about who knew more people in Tulsa, him or me.
Bill has a stellar reputation as a Bible-believing Christian, a wonderful family man and a Christian educator.
As a kid, I looked up to my brothers but to Bill in particular. If you have ever been to New Life Ranch, you have probably heard of Bill Biggs.
In 1960, Bill started going to New Life Ranch in the summer as a camper. Then he became a junior counselor and later a counselor. Then he was summer director and later he became a special speaker.
This continued almost uninterrupted (he spent one summer in the Oklahoma National Guard) for more than 50 years.
Bill met his lovely wife, Keri, during one summer at New Life Ranch. (So many romances have been started at the Christian camp that some call it New “Wife” Ranch.)
Bill has taught, witnessed to and discipled thousands of campers over the years. And he has had a powerful impact on staff members, too. The founders of New Life Ranch, the late Rev. Williard and Ruth Heck, had a real affection for Bill (and the rest of our family, too).
Bill is famous at New Life Ranch for telling the story of the “Hookman” at campfires.
After getting a degree from Los Angeles Baptist College, Bill taught at Christian school in Pensacola, Florida, and then returned to teach at Tulsa Christian Academy in West Tulsa.
He loved to coach and he had some pretty good basketball teams back when it was difficult for private schools to match up with public school teams.
Bill later taught at Wright Christian Academy and Mingo Valley Christian School. While working on his master’s degree, he was the coach of the women’s basketball team (when Nolan Richardson was men’s coach).
Toward the end of his career, he got a call from a from student who was an administrator at Will Rogers High School. They desperately needed a freshman science teacher and he thought Bill would be perfect for the job.
Christian schools don’t have nearly the benefits of public schools and it turned out that Bill could qualify for a modest pension if he taught in Tulsa for five years.
He accepted and taught at Rogers for two years until cutbacks hit. He had to transfer to Academy Central Elementary in Gilcrease Hills in North Tulsa. He switched from science to gym teacher. He taught there three years before officially retiring.
It was quite a switch from teaching science and Bible at Christian school to a secular school in a minority neighborhood. But Bill was up to the task.
He reads the Tulsa Beacon every week. In the fall, he is one of the pickers in our weekly college football picks.
Bill and Keri have raised two wonderful Christian sons, Brad and Ben. Both worked at New Life Ranch. Brad is working on his doctorate at Northwestern University in Chicago (he wants to be a college professor and boy, do we need Christian professors). Ben works here in Tulsa.
Bill has always collected coins, as did our father, Harley Biggs, Sr. Now, Bill works a day or two a week in a coin shop on 41st Street at Sheridan Road. He looks for rare coins and buys and sells hidden treasures.
But he does something much more valuable than that – he prays.
The Bible says, “The effective prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
Bill is a righteous man who not only believes in the power of prayer but he is diligent about prayer. I take great comfort that he prays for my family and me on a daily basis. (I try to do the same for his family and him.)
I envy those who make it on Bill’s prayer list.
I love my siblings. Ben Campbell is in poor health and Peggy Flores has some medical issues. Two brothers, Tom and Harley, Jr., have passed.
My brother Jon, another wonderful Christian with a great family, is a few years away from retiring. Jon is a math teacher who has invested greatly in the lives of young people in public schools.
Bill Biggs is not done. He has set a high bar for the Biggs Family and we all love him dearly and we will help him celebrate his seventh decade on this planet.
But I still think I know more people in Tulsa than he does (ha).