About PetersPioneersJohn Alfred and Jane Drueke Biggins Family

Emily Biggins Williams, James Alfred Biggins, Sarah Biggins Kelzenberg, William Alfred Biggins, Rev. Louis Derbes, CM, and Mary Rooney contributed to this family history.

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Al Born in 1910

Philip Biggins
Irish Flag
Leslie Biggins
Sarah McNally
Irish Flag
John Alfred Biggins
John F. Foy
Irish Flag
Emily Foy
Mary Stanton
Irish Flag

46-Star US Flag 1908-1912Chicago, Lincoln Park, 1910-1936. John Alfred Biggins was born September 2, 1910, in St. Vincent de Paul parish in the Lincoln Park section of Chicago. In 1910, there were 46 states in the Union. William H. Taft was President of the United States. New Mexico and Arizona would not be admitted for two years.

John Alfred was called "Al." He was baptized at St. Vincent's on September 25 by Father J. V. Devine, C.M. Godfather was his uncle George Donahue. Godmother was Mary Foy. He had three relatives that could have been Mary Foy: John Foy's sister, John Foy's cousin Mayme, or the daughter of John Foy's cousin Patrick. Al was the fourth child of Leslie and Emily Foy Biggins. His brother and sisters were Kathleen born in 1902, Emily born in 1905, and Philip born in 1909. Al's brother Richard would not be born until 1913.

952 W. Altgeld Street
952 W. Altgeld Street, Chicago, Illinois. Tax Assessor's Photo, 2001.
The family lived at 950 Greenwood Terrace (950 W. Altgeld Street after a name change in 1914). The building at 950 has been torn down, but pictured is a recent photo of 952 Altgeld, which was a mirror image on the right (east) of 950 and shared a common wall.

Al's mother Emily, a second generation American, was born in Chicago. In 1910, the year Al was born, she founded the DePaul Settlement club. Al's maternal grandparents were John and Mary Stanton Foy, also lived at 950 Altgeld Street. The two buildings at 950 and 952 Altgeld had been built by John Foy in 1893.

Al's father Leslie, a third generation American, was a building material salesman for George W. de Smet. Al's paternal grandparents were Philip and Sarah McNally Biggins. They had a farm, where Leslie was born, in DuPage Township, Will County, Illinois, and then lived in the town of Naperville, Illinois, before moving to the City of Chicago.

Y-Chromosome DNA

DNA test results for a son of John Alfred, Peter Biggins, show that he matches up fairly closely with descendants of the Three Collas, who lived in fourth century Ulster. Surnames of these descendants include Maguire, McMahon, Carroll, McKenna, and McDonald. See DNA of the Three Collas.

There is a close match for Peter Biggins and other testers named Biggins, Beggan, Beagan, and Little. They go back to a common ancestor estimated to have lived in 1350 AD. See Biggins/Beggan Irish Roots.

In 1911, Alís grandmother Sarah McNally Biggins died and was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Section D, Block 9, Lot 11. This plot had been purchased by Sarah's mother Bridget and Sarah's brother-in-law John Dempsey to bury Sarah's father in 1861. In 1913, Al's grandfather Philip Biggins died and was buried next to Sarah at Calvary Cemetery. From 1911 to 1913, Philip lived at 950 Altgeld with Al and his family.

In 1916, Al started school at St. Vincent's Grammar School.

On October 16, 1918, Al's sister Emily died at age 13 from the Spanish influenza epidemic. The Spanish flu epidemic killed 21 million people world wide, including 600,000 in the United States and 8,500 in Chicago. October was the peak month in Chicago. She was buried in the Foy plot at Mount Carmel Cemetery: Section B, Block 2, Lot 19.

On December 5, 1920, Al's grandmother, Mary Stanton Foy died at home at 950 Altgeld Street. The cause was chronic interstitial nephritis. She was 72 years old. She left her husband and two daughters, Emily and Molly. After solemn high requiem mass at St. Vincent's, Mary was buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Section B, Block 2, Lot 19. She was buried next to her son William and her granddaughter Emily Biggins.

Al more than once told his children that as a boy he sold newspapers on the street corner in the rain.

Al Biggins, from 1924 class picture
Picture of Al Biggins cut from 1924 class picture at St. Vincent's Grammar School.
Sheffield Square Apts, 2006
Sheffield Square Apartments, 2006. Source: DePaul University. Built by Leslie and Emily Foy Biggins in 1925 and called University Court Apartments.

Al graduated from St. Vincent's Grammar School in 1924. He decided to be a Vincentian priest and went the Vincentian minor seminary at St. Vincentís College in Cape Girardeau, 115 miles south of St. Louis on the Mississippi River.

In 1925, Al's parents built the University Court Apartments at 2318-26 N. Sheffield Avenue. The new building was just a few blocks south of Altgeld Street. The family moved to the University Court Apartments, while Al's grandfather John Foy stayed at Altgeld Street with the Donahues. They issued $500 bearer first mortgage gold bonds with interest at 6.25% per annum payable semi-annually to State Bank of Chicago. Al's family occupied the front unit on the 3rd floor of the 2318 entrance. The architect for the University Court Apartments on Sheffield was the same that John Foy had used on the Foy Apartments on Byron Street. The University Court Apartments are now Sheffield Square Apartments of DePaul University, having been purchased in 1994 by Rev. John P. Minogue, president of the University and son of Al's second cousin, Gregory Minogue.

In 1928, Al's sister Kathleen married Philip Coverdale. Philipís parents were Philip H. Coverdale (1872-1946) and Pearl OíNeill Coverdale (1881-1937). John Coverdale in England, a cousin of Philip Coverdale, has traced the Coverdales back to the late 1600s in Coverdale, Yorkshire, England, but not as far back as Myles Coverdale (1488-1569). In 1535, Miles Coverdale completed an English translation of the Bible that served as a basis for the King James version completed in 1611. Miles was a bishop who had gone over to the Anglican Church of Henry VIII. Philip Coverdale's ancestors, according to John Coverdale of England, are probably related Miles Coverdale, but remained Catholic.

Al was active in sports. He learned to swim at the Turner Verein on Lincoln Avenue and later swam on the swim team at Northwestern University and worked as a lifeguard at Oak Street Beach. He was an avid handball player. He ran track at Northwestern. He rowed with the Lincoln Park Boat Club. And he played some baseball, as evidenced by the photo below.

St. Mary of the Barrens, Perryville
St. Mary of the Barrens, Perryville, Missouri.
Al in baseball uniform
Al in baseball uniform, about 1927

On April 30, 1928, Al finished the minor seminary at St. Vincentís College, was professed as a Vincentian, and started school at the major seminary, St. Mary of the Barrens in Perryville, 40 miles northwest of Cape Girardeau. A year later, he decided not to become a priest and left Perryville.

Delta Tau Delta, NU
Delta Tau Delta, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
Flag of the Lincoln Park Boat Club
Flag of the Lincoln Park Boat Club

In 1929, Al was accepted into the engineering school at Northwestern University in Evanston. It was a five-year program, but he was given credit for his year at Perryville. While at Northwestern, he joined Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He worked summers as a Lincoln Park lifeguard at Oak Street beach in Chicago. He received a degree in Civil Engineering in 1933.

Lincoln Park lifeguards
Lincoln Park lifeguards. Al is kneeling, third from the right.
Oak Street Beach, 1931
Oak Street Beach, 1931. Copyright 2005 David R. Phillps.

In 1932, Al was godfather for his second cousin Daniel Minogue. The Minogues lived at 934 Barry Street in Chicago.

Al Biggins
Al Biggins, circa 1933.

World's Fair, 1933
Rickshaw in front of the Lama Temple at Century of Progress World's Fair, 1933.
After graduation, he worked as a coolie pulling a rickshaw for visitors to the 1933 Century of Progress World's Fair, with his brother Richard and cousin Vincent Donahue. Many of the rickshaw pullers were European-American students from Chicago universities, according to the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago.

Sometime between 1933 and 1936, Al found work as a corrugated box salesman with Container Corporation of America, founded by Walter Paepcke in 1926.

On July 13, 1936, Alís grandfather, John F. Foy died at age 78 at 2318 Sheffield. After requiem mass at St. Vincent's, John was buried with his wife Mary and Al's sister Emily in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Section B, Block 2, Lot 19.

Grand Rapids, 1936-1937. Sometime between 1933 and 1936, Al moved to Grand Rapids with Container Corporation of America. One of his customers was the Drueke game company. When he applied for his Social Security Number in November 1936, when Social Security first started, he was living at 1310 Lake Drive SE in Grand Rapids.

Social Security Form SS-5

When Al applied for his marriage license in 1937, he was living at 1011 Chester Street SE. This was a mile southeast of where Jane Drueke lived with her family at 120 Grand Avenue SE.

In 1937, Alís two brothers were married in Chicago. Philip married Olive Taylor, and Richard Vincent married Virginia Shay. In that same year, Al married Jane Marie Drueke in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Jane Born in 1914

Birth Certificate      Baptismal Certificate

William Peter Drueke
German Flag
William Francis Drueke
Elizabeth Berles
German Flag
Jane Marie Drueke
Cris J. Smith
German Flag
Rose Viola Smith
Christine Koch
German Flag

48-Star US Flag 1912-1959Grand Rapids, 1914-1937. Jane Marie Drueke was born November 4, 1914, at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1914, there were 48 states in the Union, New Mexico and Arizona having been admitted in 1912. Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States.

Jane was baptized Johanna Maria (Jane Marie) on November 10, 1914, at St. Mary's Church, a German Catholic Church. Several of Jane's ancestors were founders of the church in 1857. Jane was baptized by her father's first cousin, Father Felix Vogt. Her godfather was her uncle Joseph Hesse, who had recently married her aunt Louise Drueke. Her godmother was her aunt Antoinette Drueke Matthews.

Jane was the fifth child of William and Rose Smith Drueke. The children born earlier were: Irene in 1907, Marian in 1908, Joseph in 1911, and William in 1912. Rosemary would be born in 1916.

Drueke family and car in front of 120 Grand Avenue
Will and Rose with their three children Irene, Joe, and Marian in a Flanders 20 Suburban in front of 120 Grand Avenue in 1911.
The family lived on the east side of the Grand River at 120 Grand Avenue NE in Grand Rapids. They had moved there in 1908. The photo shows the house in 1911, a few months after Joseph was born. Jane's sister Marian wrote about their father that "about 1910, he bought his first car and he was the first salesman in Grand Rapids to use his car for business - but the country roads were so bad he did not use the car out of town." The car is a 1910 Flanders 20 Suburban.

Jane's mother, Rose, a fourth generation American was born in Grand Rapids. Jane's maternal grandparents were Cris J. and Christine Koch Smith. Christine died in 1887 when Rose was only five. Cris, a musician, remarried and moved to Chicago in 1893 when Rose was 11, leaving Rose to be brought up by his sister, Rosa, who was called "Tante." Tante is the German word for aunt. Tante's maiden name was Rosa Schmitt. She was married to Charles Hauser. They had no children of their own. Uncle Charlie was President of Hauser-Owen-Ames Co., a construction company in Grand Rapids. Tante and Uncle Charlie lived at 251 Union Ave NE, a few blocks northwest of Jane's family.

Jane's father, William, a second generation American, was President and Treasurer of Quinn Stationery Co. Her paternal grandparents were William Peter and Elizabeth Berles Drueke. William Peter Drueke was Vice President of Drueke-Lynch Co., a wholesaler of liquors and bar supplies. An advertisement on the front cover of the 1914 Grand Rapids City Directory proclaimed that Drueke-Lynch was "Grand Rapidsí Leading Liquor Store." William Peter and Elizabeth Berles Drueke lived just west of the Grand River, two miles west of Jane's family, at 116 Summer Avenue NW.

Jane's sister Marian wrote concerning their father that "about 1913, he and Mr. Quinn bought out a stationery store that had been in business many years - it was on Monroe Avenue "downtown" - they had a big inventory to dispose of - dolls that were slightly imperfect and rum boxes." Marian went on to say that "Dad went on the road to sell rum boxes in 1914. At this time Germany and France and England were at war." She then says that "the buyer of Marshall Fields told Dad that they could not get chess sets and she gave him sample pieces of different sized sets. Dad came back to Grand Rapids and talked to Mr. Waddel about making these sets - he took his sample pieces - made in Grand Rapids - and went to New York to sell - business was so good he had Mother join him in New York. When he returned home he had to set up a factory to manufacture what he had sold." By 1916, the Wm. F. Drueke & Co. was listed in the Grand Rapids directory and described as a novelty manufacturer. The business grew to include backgammon, cribbage, and many other games. In 1990, the company was sold to the Carrom Company, which moved manufacturing operations to its home in Ludington, Michigan, but continues to use the Drueke name.

Young Jane Drueke
Young Jane Drueke.

In April 1918, Jane's grandfather, William Peter Drueke, was forced out of business by a Michigan prohibition law that preceded the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by almost two years. He was 65.

In 1918, Jane's brother Bill's education began at Fountain Street School, but he missed classes most of the year because of the flu.

In 1926, after eight years of retirement, William Peter Drueke died. He was survived by his wife Elizabeth. They had been married 44 years.

Jane Drueke, 1932
Young Jane Drueke.

In 1928, Jane started high school at Central High School in Grand Rapids.

Jane's father bought stock on margin in 1926 and 1927. Following the 1929 stock market crash, he lost $7,000 and sold hospital furniture for the next few years.

In June 1932, Jane graduated from Central High School in Grand Rapids. Her brother Bill had graduated in January 1932.

Jane Drueke, 1932
Jane and Bill, 1932
The Annual Helios, Fortieth Anniversary Year, June 1932, Central High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In November 1932, Jane's grandfather Cris J. Smith, died at age 80 in Kansas City, Missouri, where he was living with his son Karl. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Grand Rapids.

From 1932 to 1934, Jane attended Grand Rapids Junior College, now called Grand Rapids Community College. Her older sisters, Irene and Marian, had both graduated from four-year colleges. Irene graduated from the University of Michigan in 1929, where she was a member of Theta Phi Alpha sorority. Marian graduated from the University of Illinois in 1931. They had both reached college age before the Great Depression began in 1929. Jane's brother Joseph graduated from college in 1932. Her brother William graduated from Central High School in 1932 and was in college until 1933. When Jane reached college age in 1932, the family decided not to send her to a four-year college because of the economy. Rosemary was attending the University of Detroit when their sister Irene was married in 1937.

In 1932, the Wm. F. Drueke and Sons business was re-establishing in their home in their home at 120 Grand Avenue. Bill and Joe's sisters were also involved. Marian handled the office work on the third floor. In the basement, Jane and Rosemary packed orders. One of Bill's first jobs was going to the dime stores to buy used boxes for shipping orders. They resumed making cribbage and chess sets. For a time, they imported chess pieces from France. After refinishing and repackaging them, the pieces were sold with the Drueke label. By 1933, they were doing well enough to rent space in the Shaw Building at 640 Front Avenue NW, on the west side of the Grand River.

The 1935 and 1936 Grand Rapids city directories show Jane as Secretary of the Drueke company, her brother Joseph as Vice President, and her brother William as Treasurer.

Irene Drueke Cowan
Irene Drueke Cowan, August 3, 1937.
On August 3, 1937, Jane's sister, Irene Elizabeth Drueke, married Philip Edward Cowan of Detroit in Grand Rapids. Because Philip was not a Catholic, they were married by Father Andrew F. Zugelder in the rectory of St. Andrew's Cathedral. Jane's sister Marian was maid of honor. Philip and Irene established their home in Detroit. Philip was a graduate of the University of Michigan, as was Irene. Irene received a degree in decorative design from the University of Michigan and was a decorative consultant with J. L. Hudson Co., a Detroit department store. Fr. Zugelder was a first cousin of Jane's grandmother Christine Koch. Jane's brother William said that their father was very upset when Irene married a non-Catholic, but not so with their mother.

In 1937, while working as office manager for her father's game business, Jane met Al Biggins, who was selling shipping boxes to the Drueke game company.

Bride Killed, Sister Injured in Crash

Two days before Al and Jane were to be married in Grand Rapids, Jane's sister Irene Drueke Cowan was killed on the way to the rehearsal dinner in a car driven by Al. Jane's recollection of her sister Irene's death, as told to her nephew Richard Drueke on January 24, 1998, while on vacation in Deerfield Beach, Florida, is as follows.

Irene was killed in an auto accident on Thursday, November 4th, 1937. She was on her way to the rehearsal dinner party for Al and me, who were to be married on Saturday, November 6th. There was a truck that had broken down (presumably with a flat tire) on the road. The driver had disconnected the trailer from the truck and was headed into Coopersville, Michigan to pick up flares to mark the trailer. Al was driving with me in the middle and Irene by the door. Al was unable to see the trailer (the headlights were shining under the jacked-up trailer) until the last minute when he turned to the left to avoid the trailer. The passenger side of the car took the full impact from the crash, killing Irene instantly. Al and I suffered concussions and don't remember much from the accident. Irene's husband Phil and our mother and father and siblings were following in the car behind.

Al and Jane were married on November 12, 1937, although the wedding announcements as well as her wedding ring are imprinted with November 6, 1937.

The Grand Rapids Press, Friday, November 5, 1937
Mrs. Philip E. Cowan, 29, married here in August and since that time a resident of Detroit, was killed outright and her sister, Miss Jane Drueke, 23, of 120 Grand-av., N. E., and J. Alfred Biggins, 27, Chicago, whom she was to marry Saturday, were severely injured when their automobile crashed into a stalled trailer on US16, a mile and one-half east of Coopersville in Ottawa county, Thursday evening. At St. Mary's Hospital, where the two injured persons were taken, it was reported Friday their injuries were severe but that both probably would recover. Miss Drueke suffered a fracture of her right arm and head injuries. Biggins received head injuries, hospital attendants said. Miss Drueke and Biggins had planned their wedding for Saturday morning at St. Andrew's cathedral. Funeral services for Mrs. Cowan will be held at St. Andrew's cathedral Monday. Biggins and his guests were en route to Coopersville to attend a prenuptial dinner in honor of Miss Drueke and Biggins at the home of Dr. and Mrs. J. M. Wenger. Driving behind the car which struck the trailer was a car containing Mr. and Mrs. William F. Drueke of 120 Grand-av., N. E., Grand Rapids, parents of Mrs. Cowan and Miss Drueke. Also in the Drueke car were William, jr., Joseph, Marian and Rosemary Drueke, brothers and sisters of Mrs. Cowan and Jane Drueke.
The Grand Rapids Herald, Friday, November 5, 1937
Collision of an auto with a heavily loaded truck Thursday evening one and one-half miles east of Coopersville on US-16 while en route to a birthday party brought death to Mrs. Philip Cowan, 29, of 8634 Dunbarton ave., Detroit; critical injury to her sister, Miss Jane Drueke, 23, of 120 Grand ave., NE., and lesser injuries to the latter's fiance, John A. Biggins, 27, of Chicago, whose local address is 1310 Lake dr., SE. Mrs. Cowan, a bride of last August and Miss Drueke, who was to have been married Saturday at St. Andrew's church to Mr. Biggins are daughters of Mr. and Mrs. William Drueke. The trailer truck which had gone into the ditch at the side of the highway Wednesday night had been pulled onto the highway and the driver, Floyd Woodward, 41, of 8722 Brandt st., Detroit, had gone to Coopersville to get some flares, to place around the truck, according to state police and Ottawa county sheriff's officers. Woodward left Jack Blonshine, Coopersville, the only witness to the accident, standing about 70 paces from the truck with a burning flare in his hand to ward traffic. According to Blonshine who, it was reported, waved his warning flare, the car driven by Biggins came along at a rapid speed bound west. As the Biggins car neared the truck on the north side of the road another going east passed the disabled trailer at the same time. In an instant the Biggins auto had struck the trailer killing Mrs. Cowan almost instantly. Mr. and Mrs. Drueke, closely following the ill fated car, were soon at the scene and gave every aid possible. The trailer truck carried a heavy load of bottled beer and was being driven to Muskegon by Woodward.

The funeral for Irene Drueke Cowan, 1907-1937, was held on Monday, November 8. Father Zugelder, a cousin of Irene's mother who married Irene and Philip, said the Mass at St. Andrew's Cathedral, assisted by Monsignor D. E. Malone and Father Felix Vogt of Saginaw, a cousin of Irene's father. Irene was buried in Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Grand Rapids.

Philip E. Cowan, 1906-1981, moved to Highland Park, Michigan, in 1939 and remarried. Children were born in 1944 and 1949. He was active in the community. In 1954, while he was general manager of a pharmacy on Woodward Avenue, he was appointed to complete the unexpired term of the mayor of Highland Park, who had moved to another city.

Al and Jane Marry in 1937, Have 5 Children

Marriage License

Al and Jane were married on Friday November 12, 1937, at St. Stephen's Church in Grand Rapids. Monsignor D. E. Malone, who assisted at the funeral Mass for Irene, officiated at the wedding. Irene's husband, Phil Cowan, was best man. Jane's sister Rosemary was maid of honor. It must have been a somber event because of Irene's death. Originally, the wedding was to be on Saturday November 6 at St. Andrew's Cathedral.

Grand Rapids, 1937-1939. Al and Jane lived at 1011 Chester Street SE. Three months later, they moved to 817 Ballard Street SE in Grand Rapids. This was 2.5 miles south of 120 Grand Avenue.

Point Nipigon
Al and Jane playing shuffleboard at Point Nipigon, on Lake Huron 10 miles southeast of Mackinaw City, Michigan.

Al and Jane's first child Emily Jane was born in Grand Rapids on November 9, 1938, at Saint Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids. She was baptized at Saint Francis Xavier Church in Grand Rapids on November 20 by Rev. V. P. Gallagher, assistant Pastor. Jane's brother Joseph Drueke and Al's sister Kathleen Biggins Coverdale were godparents.

On May 8, 1939, Jane's brother Joseph, age 28, married Joan Pike, age 24, at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Grand Rapids.

Kalamazoo, 1939-1941. In 1939, Al and Jane moved to Kalamazoo, about 50 miles south of Grand Rapids. They lived at 916 Normal View (now 916 Lee Barton Ct.). Their second child Peter Alfred was born here 364 days after his sister, Emily Jane. Godparents were Jack Covington and Jane's sister Marian Drueke.

The house on Normal View was across the street from Western State Teachers College, called Western State Normal School, 1903-27, Western State Teachers College, 1927-41, Western Michigan College, 1941-1957, then Western Michigan University.

916 Normal View, Kalamazoo
916 Normal View, Kalamazoo, Michigan. 1938 Chevrolet Master Business Coupe: 85 horsepower, 6 cylinders straight, 80 mph top speed, 17 mpg fuel economy, list price new was $648.
WMU tram
View from 916 Normal View. 1931 postcard showing the tram up to East Hall at Western Michigan University. Source: Kalamazoo History.
Emily and Carol
Emily, seven and a half months old, sitting in a chair, and an unknown Carol at a house on West Cork Street in Kalamazoo in June 1939.

Al and Jane's second child, Peter Alfred, was born on November 8, 1939, at Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo. Peter was born 364 days after his sister, Emily Jane. Peter was baptized November 19 at St. Augustine Church by Father Raphael Dunigan. His godparents were Jack Covington and his aunt Marian Drueke.

Peter's Birth Certificate

The 1940 Census, which was taken on April 2, 1940, shows Al and Jane and their two children on Normal View, and it shows Al as a salesman for Container Corporation.

On June 22, 1940, Jane's sister Rosemary, age 23, married James Griffin, age 27, in Grand Rapids. They were married in the rectory of St. Andrew's Cathedral because James was not a Catholic.

Peter and Emily, Kalamazoo
Draft registration card filled out on October 16, 1940. World War II started on September 1, 1939, with the German invasion of Poland. The draft began in October 1940. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1940.
Four Generations
Four generations at 120 Grand Avenue in 1940: Elizabeth Berles Drueke, 81; Emily Jane Biggins, 1; Jane Drueke Biggins, 25, William Francis Drueke, 56.
Peter and Emily, Kalamazoo
Peter and Emily on November 8, 1940, when they were both age one.
Biggins Family
Emily and her mother with Peter and his father, probably on November 8, 1940.

In 1941, Al and Jane moved a mile and a half south to another house in Kalamazoo at 1518 Evanston Avenue.

1518 Evanston Avenue, Kalamazoo
Aunt Marian with the Biggins family on the front steps of 1518 Evanston Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1941. From left: Marian, Emily, Peter, and Al.
Biggins Family
Emily and Peter and their mother in the living room at 1518 Evanston in November 1941.
Peter and Emily
Peter and Emily in April 1941.

On January 25, 1941, Jane's brother William, age 27, married Doris McLaughlin, age 20, in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

Jane and Al's third child, James Alfred, was born at Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo on July 15, 1941.

On December 27, 1941, Jane's grandmother, Elizabeth Berles Drueke, died at age 83 in Grand Rapids. She had been a widow for 15 years. She was survived by six children, William F. Drueke, Antoinette Drueke Matthews, Frank Drueke of New York, Louise Drueke Hesse, Bernice Drueke Cheney, and Clarence Drueke; three sisters, Josephine Berles Drueke, Abigail Berles Hake, and Caroline Berles Bodenstein of Streator, Illinois; 18 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. Funeral services were held at St. Mary's, a German church that her father, Franz Berles, had helped start in 1857 and where she was married in 1882.

Glendale, 1941-1942. In 1941, Al was transferred to St. Louis, and the family moved to Sappington Road in Glendale, a suburb of St. Louis.

Sappington Road
Sappington Road, Glendale, Missouri.
Jim and Peter
Jim and Peter at Sappington Road, Glendale. Circa 1942.
Emily and Peter swimming
Emily and Peter swimming with mother watching.
400 Fairwood Lane
400 Fairwood Lane, Kirkwood, Missouri.

Kirkwood, 1942-1944. In 1942, the family moved to a newly-built house at 400 Fairwood Lane in a new section of another suburb of St. Louis, Kirkwood.

Jane and Al's fourth child, Sarah Jane, was born on February 6, 1943, while they were living in Kirkwood. Her godmother was Dolores Tahney Minogue, wife of Gerald Minogue, Al's second cousin. Dot and Gerry were living in the St. Louis area at the time.

Chicago, Lincoln Park, 1944. In January 1944, at age 33, Al left Container Corporation and enlisted in the U.S. Navy, as a Lieutenant (junior grade). He was assigned to the Supply Corps in the American Fore Building on Rush Street, across the street from Quigley Preparatory Seminary. His job was purchasing corrugated boxes. In Europe, the Battle of Monte Cassino had just begun.

They sold their house in Kirkwood and spent the summer of 1944 in the home of Chicago artists Gus Dalstrom and Frances Foy in the Lincoln Park section of Chicago at 2637 N. Dayton Street, about a mile north of where Al's parents lived. The house had a studio in the attic that the four Biggins children enjoyed exploring. Gus and Frances spent summers working at their cabin along the Little Manistee River in Michigan's northwoods. Frances Foy was a second cousin of Al's mother Emily.

Jack Covington and Al
Jack Covington, Peter's godfather, and Al.
Al and Jane and four children
Al and Jane with Sarah, James, Peter, and Emily.
Coverdales and Bigginses
Back row, from left: Al, nephew Phil Coverdale, sister Kathleen Coverdale. Front row: Peter, Jim, John Foy Coverdale, Sarah, and Emily. In the backyard at Frances Foy's house.
Frances Foy's House, Summer 1944
The Biggins family in the backyard of Frances Foy's house, summer 1944. From left: Peter, Jim, Jane, Sarah, Al, and Emily.
Emily, 545 Scranton
Emily standing outside house at 545 Scranton Avenue, Lake Bluff, Illinois.
The Biggins Family in Lake Bluff
The Biggins family in Lake Bluff: Peter, Sarah, Jane, Jim, and Emily

Lake Bluff, 1944-1946. Later in 1944, the Navy transferred Al to Great Lakes Naval Station, north of Chicago in Waukegan, Illinois. The family bought a house at 545 E. Scranton Avenue, in nearby Lake Bluff, about two blocks from Lake Michigan and the beach. They were members of St. Mary's Parish, three miles away at 175 E. Illinois Road in Lake Forest, which is just to the south of Lake Bluff. In September 1944, Emily started first grade at St. Mary's in Lake Forest. Peter went to Kindergarten in the local public school. On May 8, 1945, the Germans surrendered in Berlin. On August 15, 1945, the Japanese surrendered in Tokyo, and World War II ended. In September 1945, Peter went to first grade at St. Mary's and Emily went on to second grade. In March 1946, Al was discharged from active duty in the Navy as a full Lieutenant, joined the Naval Reserve, and went back to working as a corrugated box salesman in Chicago.

Harry Truman Thank You      Certificate of Satisfactory Service      Acceptance of Resignation      Honorable Discharge

Navy ID card
Navy ID card of Lieutenant John A. Biggins from 1946 to 1950.
Navy ID card
Navy ID card (back).
Lt. J. A. Biggins
Lt. J. A. Biggins, Supply Corps, U.S. Navy. Photo has been included in the WW II Memorial Registry.

Webster Groves, 1946-1948. At some point between 1946 and 1952, Al joined Union Bag & Paper Corporation. It's not clear whether Al went back to Container Corporation in Chicago or started with Union Bag then. In any event, Al's job took him to St. Louis. Al and Jane bought a home at 200 Parkhurst Terrace, off Swan Avenue in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis. The house was one story with a basement. The roof was flat and there was a skylight in the living room. Al built a playroom in the basement. Many cherry pies were made by Jane from the two cherry trees by the side door on the Swan Avenue side of the house. The milkman sometimes gave the children a ride on his route up and down Parkhurst Terrace. There was a plant wildlife sanctuary across Swan Avenue where Sarah lit a fire one summer that had to be extinguished by the Fire Department.

The family lived in Holy Redeemer Parish at 17 Joy Avenue. The parish was a little over a mile from where they lived on Parkhurst Terrace. Emily, Peter, and Jim went to Holy Redeemer School. They walked down a half block down Swan to Gray Avenue, then two blocks down Gray Avenue to Lockwood Avenue, and then took the street car down Lockwood Avenue. The boys wore knickers to school.

200 Parkhurst Terrace
Biggins house at 200 Parkhurst Terrace, Webster Groves, Missouri.
Steps at 200 Parkhurst Terrace
Biggins family on the steps at 200 Parkhurst Terrace.
Holy Redeemer School
Holy Redeemer School, Webster Groves, Missouri.
Peter's First Holy Communion
Jim, Emily, Peter, and Sarah Biggins after Peter's First Holy Communion, May 1947, 200 Parkhurst Terrace, Webster Groves, Missouri. The car on the right is a 1946-47 Hudson.
Christmas stockings
Christmas stocking made by Aunt Marian Drueke, in the living room at 200 Parkhurst Terrace.
Jane and children
Jane and her five children in the living room at 200 Parkhurst Terrace: Jim, Bill, Emily, Sarah, and Peter. Bill was born June 7, 1947.

On June 7, 1947, Al and Jane's last child, William Alfred, was born.

On hot days in the summer, the family would go swimming at Treecourt, along the Meramec River at 2499 Marshall Road in Valley Park, 7 miles southwest of Webster Groves. They also spent time at the St. Louis Zoo in Forest Park.

Wilmette, 1948-1963. In 1948, Al was relocated to Chicago. They sold the house in Webster Groves and bought a house in St. Francis Xavier Parish at 806 Oakwood Avenue in Wilmette, a suburb just north of Chicago. Al's mother and father lived in Chicago as did his brothers and sister and their families.

For more on what life was like for the Biggins family growing up in Wilmette in the 1950s, see: Wilmette in the 1950s.

806 Oakwood Avenue
House at 806 Oakwood Avenue, Wilmette, Illinois, where the Biggins family lived from 1948 to 1963.
St. Francis Xavier Church
St. Francis Xavier Church, Wilmette, Illinois.
St. Francis Xavier school
St. Francis Xavier School, Wilmette, Illinois.

The children went to St. Francis Xavier School, a short two-block walk from home.

Sarah went to kindergarten at Laurel School, a block east of 806 Oakwood. In the kindergarten room, there was a 23-foot WPA mural entitled "Farming" by Gustaf Dalstrom. Gus Dalstrom was married to Francis Foy, second cousin of Al's mother. See WPA Art in Wilmette and Foy Mural. We did not find out about this mural until much later. In 1973, the school was torn down and replaced by a condominium. The mural was transferred to Harper School. North Shore Magazine has this to say about the mural:

"Farming" is a springtime agricultural scene of farm animals including horses, cows, a pig, sheep and various barnyard fowl. A red barn sits off in the distance and, deeper in the hills, a village rises. A stream cuts through a pasture that sprouts trillium and other native wildflowers; the children in this image are huddled near a blooming shrub.

Rural Landscape
"Farming" by Gustaf Dalstrom, 1938. WPA mural installed in the Kindergarten of Laurel School, Wilmette, Illinois. Oil on canvas: 9'9" x 23'

There were several summers in the 1940s when Emily and Peter went to Michigan to visit their Drueke grandparents and cousins. This usually included a few weeks at their grandparents' cottage on the east side of Coldwater Lake between the 4H Club and the Isabella County Park, about 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids. The address of the Park is now 1703 N. Littlefield Road in Weidman. Sometimes the whole family went. They went by car and inevitably had a flat tire. In the summer of 1949, Emily and Peter flew from Chicago to Grand Rapids by themselves on a Capital Airlines DC-3. In 1961, Capital Airlines became part of United Airlines.

On the Road
Jane on a picnic bench in the shade by the side of the road with Sarah, James, and William. Empty Coke bottle on table. Parked 1947-48 Ford Tudor Sedan. Summer 1949.
Midway Airport
Peter and Emily Biggins, Midway Airport, Chicago, boarding Capital Airlines DC-3 for Grand Rapids, Michigan. Summer 1949.
Biggins boys
From the top: Bill, Jim, and Peter in front of the fireplace at 806 Oakwood. Circa 1950.

In 1950, Al's parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Al and his brothers and sister had a dinner for them at Belden-Stratford Hotel at 2300 N. Lincoln Park West in Chicago, grandchildren included.

The family had an English Bulldog named Salute to Jeeves. Jeeves was the son of a champion, Salute. He was named after Reginald Jeeves, a fictional character in the short stories and novels of P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975), favorites of Al and Jane. Although he was never trained to obey commands, he did agree to live in the kitchen. Slobber would fly whenever Jeeves shook his head—which could be annoying around the breakfast table. One day he escaped and was running around a school yard with several other dogs. The dog catcher came and all the dogs ran away, except Jeeves, who ran right into the open door of the dog catcher's van. Another time, Peter's father and brother Jim decided to show Jeeves at the dog show at Navy Pier. They asked Peter to take Jeeves around the ring. The poor dog, straining at his leash, threw up—a great embarrassment to Peter.

Jeeves and Emily
Jeeves and Emily by the elm tree in the backyard of 806 Oakwood Avenue, Easter 1955. Glimpse of summer house in back of Jeeves. The elm tree and the summer house are no longer.
Jeeves and Al
Al "training" Jeeves in the backyard.
Jeeves alone
Jeeves in the backyard, sporting a bow tie.

In February 1952, Al was promoted by Union Bag & Paper Corporation to Western Division sales manager of corrugated containers. His biggest account was Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis.

Peter's graduation
Grandpa Leslie Biggins, 77, Peter, 13, Bill, 6, Grandma Emily Foy Biggins, 75, Sarah, 10, Jim, 11, Jane, 38, and Al, 42 in the backyard of 806 Oakwood, after Peter's graduation from St. Francis Xavier School, June 1953.

In 1952, daughter Emily went to Marywood High School in Evanston. From there she went to Clark College in Dubuque, Iowa, and Mundelein College in Chicago. In 1956, Emily graduated from Mundelein College. After post graduate work in dietetics at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota, Emily became a dietician at Evanston Hospital. There she met a personnel administrator, John David Williams. In 1962, Emily and Jack were married at St. Francis Xavier Church. Jack served as head administrator for hospitals run by the Sisters of Charity in Galveston, Texas; Long Beach, California; Henderson, Nevada; and Redding, California. After Jack retired from hospital administration, Emily and Jack owned and operated a computer store in Redding and the Lighthouse Inn in Florence, Oregon. They have five children.

In 1953, son Peter went to Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago to study for the priesthood. In 1956, he changed his mind about the priesthood and enrolled in Loyola University in Chicago. In 1960, he graduated from Loyola University. In 1962, he received an MBA from the University of Chicago. He went on active duty in the U.S. Army for six months and started work in 1963 with Allstate Insurance Company. In 1964, Peter married Marilyn Carroll in Glenview, Illinois. Peter went on to work for the Chicago and North Western Railway, Hewitt Associates, Xerox, Ford, and LTV. They have four children.

On October 16, 1954, Jane's sister Marian, age 45, married John Ederer, age 47, in Grand Rapids at St. Stephen's Church. They lived in Saginaw and had a cottage on Drummond Island between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. Marian had land and a small home called Cherry Lane contiguous to her brother William's home on Plymouth Road. Because her property could not be sold for zoning reasons, she gave it to her brother in 1954 when she moved to Saginaw.

In 1955, son James went to Loyola Academy on the campus of Loyola University in Chicago. In 1957, Loyola Academy moved from Chicago to Wilmette, which is where James graduated. From there, James went to Marquette University in Milwaukee for two years and Loyola University in Chicago for two years. In 1963, he graduated from Loyola University. He worked for Illinois Bell Telephone for a year and then joined the Navy, went to Officers Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and served on active duty for 30 years, retiring as a Captain. In 1969, Jim married Anne Roarty in Washington, D.C. They have three children. Jim's career included tours of duty on three Navy ships.

James A. Biggins, US Naval Officer Candidate School, Newport, Rhode Island, Class 501, 1964
USS O'Brien
USS O'Brien (DD-725) off Canberra, Australia, in 1968. Jim served on this ship from 1965 to 1967 including action in the Viet Nam War.
USS Spruance
USS Spruance (DD-963) at its christening in Pascagoula, Mississippi, in 1973. Jim served on this ship from 1974 to 1976.
USS Midway
USS Midway (CV-41) at Yokosuka, Japan, in 1983. Jim served on this ship from 1981 to 1983. The ship became a museum in San Diego in 2004.

On January 18, 1956, Jane's father, William Francis Drueke, died of an abdominal aortic aneurism at age 72 at Berea College Hospital in Berea, Kentucky. He and Jane's mother Rose were driving to Florida for a two-month vacation. Following a funeral mass at St. Stephen's Church in Grand Rapids, he was buried at Mt. Calvary Cemetery. Jane's parents would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on June 28 the year her father died.

Plaque from Cribbage Trophy
Williams Cribbage Trophy
Williams Cribbage Trophy, with "Jane Drueke Biggins" inscription and 1932 photo.
At Christmas in 1956, a cribbage tournament was held in the Biggins household. Each person played each other person. An elaborate scoring system was devised by Al. The winner was Jane. Thus began a Christmas tradition that was to go on for 14 years: the Annual Biggins Cribbage Tournament. Al had a trophy designed, and the the winner's name was inscribed each year. Al and son William each won three times. Jane and daughter Sarah each won two times. Peter, Jack Williams, James, and Emily each won once. Sarah Biggins Kelzenberg currently has the plaque from the trophy in her possession. The trophy itself appears to be lost to posterity. The tradition has been carried on in the Williams Cribbage Tournament.

In 1957, daughter Sarah went to Marywood High School in Evanston. From there she went on to Clark College in Dubuque for two years. She then decided to become a Maryknoll sister and studied in St. Louis, Missouri, and Ossining, New York. Prior to taking vows, Sarah decided to leave Maryknoll. She went to Florida to live with her family and graduated from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. In 1969, Sarah married Elroy Kelzenberg in Bond Chapel at the University of Chicago. Sarah taught Head Start at Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago and elementary school in South Bend, Indiana, and was principal of an elementary school in Aurora, Colorado. They have two children.

On May 25, 1959, Al's father, Leslie Biggins, died at age 82 at home at 7358 Osceola Street in the Edison Park section of Chicago. In 1954, Leslie and Emily had moved from 2318 Sheffield to an apartment that Al's brother Richard had built onto their house in Edison Park. Following a funeral Mass at the Church of St. Juliana in Chicago, he was buried in the Foy plot in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Section B, Block 2, Lot 19.

In 1961, son Bill went to Loyola Academy in Wilmette for high school.

In August 1963, Al and Jane moved to the Keys with Bill and Sarah. Emily was married. Peter and Jim were liiving in Chicago. Bill finished high school at Marathon High School. He attended the University of Florida in Gainesville and California State University in Sacramento. While at CSU, he met Christie Ann Mays. They were married in 1986 in Golden Gate Park.

Sarah at Maryknoll, June 1964
Sarah at Maryknoll, June 1964.
Three serious Biggins brothers, Christmas 1961
Three serious Biggins brothers at 806 Oakwood, Christmas 1961.
Bill in baseball uniform
Bill in baseball uniform, about 1965.
Al in baseball uniform
Al in baseball uniform, about 1927.

Key Colony Beach, Florida, 1963-1965. In 1963, Al and Jane purchased the Key Colony Beach Motel in the Florida Keys at 441 E. Ocean Drive halfway down the keys in Key Colony Beach. The motel had about 40 rooms and was located on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Florida Keys, just north of Marathon. It shared a separately-owned swimming pool that was between it and the Ruttger's Motel. Al and Jane and son Bill lived in an apartment in the motel and managed it on a day-to-day basis. Bill attended Marathon High School. The motel is not fancy, but it is an ideal location.

Key Colony Beach Motel, 1965
Post card for Key Colony Beach Motel, 441 E. Ocean Drive, Key Colony Beach, Florida, 1965. "Private white sand beach, directly on the ocean. Also heated fresh water pool. All rooms air conditioned with T.V. and refrigerator. Excellent restaurants nearby. Conveniently located for all recreational activities including Golf, Fishing, Boating, Skin Diving, Water Skiing, Tennis, etc. Commercial flights daily - private plane accommodations. Major credit cards accepted."

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, 1965-1967. In 1965, the burden of managing a 40-unit motel got to be too much, so Al and Jane sold the Key Colony Beach Motel and bought the Continental, a 10-unit motel at 4533 and 4537 Poinciana Street in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida. The motel had five 1-bedroom apartments, three efficiencies, and two motel rooms.

4533-37 Poinciana
Continental, 4533-37 Poinciana Street, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida.

Kingspoint swimming pool
Kings Point swimming pool, Delray Beach, Florida.
Delray Beach, 1967-1970. In 1967, Al and Jane sold the Continental, retired, and moved into a condominium at Kings Point at 7000 W. Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, Florida. In 2012, a movie Kings Point was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Sari Gilman, Director/Producer, said "In 1978 my grandparents moved from New York City to Florida. Like so many of their generation who had lived through the Depression, they longed to retire to a life of leisure. Lured by the warm weather and the promise of activities galore, for $20,000 they purchased a two-bedroom condominium in a community that had 7,500 others just like it. First-time homeowners, they felt they had bought a little piece of the American dream."

On June 6, 1967, Al's brother Philip died of a heart attack. He was 58.

On August 24, 1967, Al's mother, Emily Foy Biggins, died at age 89 in Milwaukee. Following a funeral Mass at the Church of St. Juliana in the Edison Park section of Chicago, Illinois, she was buried in the Foy plot in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Section B, Block 2, Lot 19. In 1966, Al's mother Emily had moved to a nursing home in Milwaukee to be near her daughter Kathleen.

Pompano Beach, 1970-197?. In 1970, Al and Jane moved to Pompano Beach and bought a condominium on the second floor of a building on 23rd Street SE across the parking lot from St. Coleman Church.

Long Beach, 197?-197?. In at least 1973 and 1974, Al and Jane lived at 1900 E. Ocean Boulevard, Apartment 704, Long Beach, California.

On August 13, 1973, Jane's mother, Rose Viola Drueke, died at age 91 in her home at 1624 Seminole Road SE in Grand Rapids. She had been a widow for 16 years. Following a funeral mass at St. Stephen's Church, she was buried at Mt. Calvary Cemetery next to Jane's father.

In June 1977, the family attended a reunion of the Al and Jane Biggins family hosted by Kelz and Sarah Biggins Kelzenberg at their home in South Bend, Indiana.

Welcome Grand Ma/Pa, by Carroll Biggins
1977 reunion in South Bend, Indiana.

Welcome Grand Ma/Pa, by Carroll Biggins
"Welcome Grand Ma/Pa," sign by granddaughter Carroll Biggins welcoming Al and Jane to Birmingham, Michigan, on their trip around the country to visit their children and grandchildren in 1979.

Glendora, 197?-1979. In December 1979, Al and Jane lived in Glendora, California, at 1330 E. Foothill Boulevard, Apartment 5.

In 1979, Al and Jane toured the country visiting their children and grandchildren.

Al Dies in 1979 at age 69

John Alfred Biggins died on December 13, 1979, at age 69 of acute myelogenic leukemia at City of Hope, 1500 Duarte Road, in Duarte, California. Jane's brother William hosted the family at his home in Grand Rapids. The funeral was held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was buried in Block F, Lot 485, at Woodlawn Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Just three months before Al died, Al and Jane toured the country visiting their family.

Obituary from Grand Rapids Newspaper, December, 1979
BIGGINS ó J. Alfred Biggins, aged 68, passed away Thursday in Glendora, CA. Surviving are his wife Jane (Drueke) Biggins; his children, Mrs. Jack Williams (Emily) of Redding, CA, Peter Biggins of Birmingham, MI, Commander James Biggins of Philadelphia, Mrs. E. J. (Sarah) Kelzenberg of South Bend, William Biggins of Glendora, CA; 15 grandchildren; sister, Mrs. Kathleen Coverdale of Evanston, IL; brother, Richard Biggins of Chicago. Funeral mass will be offered Monday at 10:30am in St. Thomas the Apostle Church. Interment Woodlawn Cemetery. The Rosary Scripture Service will be held Sunday at 7:30pm and the family will receive friends Saturday 7 to 9 and Sunday 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 at the Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Home, 933 Cherry SE.

Jane Widowed at Age 65

Grand Rapids, 1979-198?. With Al's death in 1979, Jane was widowed after 42 years of marriage. She decided to move to Grand Rapids.

On December 8, 1980, Jane's sister Marian's husband, John Elmer Ederer, died of a heart attack at St. Luke's Hospital in Saginaw, Michigan. He was 73. John and Marian lived at 8208 Ederer Road. John was General Superintendent of the Saginaw County Road Commission. He was buried at St. Andrew Cemetery in Saginaw.

In September 1982, Jane and her sister Marian took a vacation to Japan, where they visited with Jane's son James and his family. James was stationed with the U.S. Navy on the USS Midway (CV-41) in Yokuska.

On October 6, 1983, Jane's sister Rosemary Drueke Griffin died. She was 66.

In 1986, Al's sister Kathleen died. She was 84.

Delray Beach, 198?-198?. Jane lived with her sister Marian in Sabal Pine at 2320 SW 22nd Avenue, Apartment 201, Delray Beach, Florida.

Jane and Marian at Sabal Pine
Jane and her sister Marian Drueke Ederer at Sabal Pine in Delray Beach, Florida. Canal is in background.

Grand Rapids, 198?-1988. In July 1993, Jane lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at 2303 Valleywood Drive SE, Apartment F2.

Boca Raton, 1988-1996. In January 1988, Jane moved to a condominium in the Winston Bay community in Boca Raton, Florida, at 5900 NE 7th Avenue, Apartment 302 South. This condominium initially was purchased by her son James. After Marian died in 1991, Jane purchased the condominium from her son James.

On October 17, 1991, Jane's sister Marian Drueke Ederer died at home at 2320 SW 22nd Avenue of a heart attack. She was 82. Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by her nephew John Ederer at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Saginaw, Michigan. Marian was buried next to her husband John at St. Andrew Cemetery in Saginaw. She left her estate to her sister Jane, whom she had lived with for most of the ten years since the death of her husband John.

On January 15, 1994, Jane's brother Joseph died. He was 82.

In February 1994, Al's brother Richard died in Chicago. He was 81. He was buried at New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, near Dubuque, Iowa, where he had lived and worked for a number of years.

Aurora, 1996-1997. In May 1996, Jane moved to Aurora, Colorado, to be near her daughter Sarah. Jane lived at 13902 E. Marina Drive, Apartment 212.

Florence, 1997-1998. In 1997, Jane moved to Florence, Oregon, where her daughter Emily lived. The altitude in Colorado was aggravating her emphysema. Jane lived in an apartment at 216 Nopal Street. This was only a few blocks from The Lighthouse Inn, which Emily and her husband Jack owned and operated at 155 Highway 101.

Jane in Florence
Jane in Florence, Oregon, autumn 1997.

In May 1998, a week before she died, Jane purchased a new house in Florence at 1401 Willow Loop.

Jane Dies in 1998 at Age 83

Death Certificate

On May 18, 1998, Jane Drueke Biggins, died at age 83 in Florence, Oregon, where her daughter Emily lived. She had emphysema, but she was doing fairly well and had just bought a brand new house in Florence. There was a Memorial Mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Florence. Her ashes were buried in Block F, Lot 485, at Woodlawn Cemetery in Grand Rapids, next to Al.

The Grand Rapids Press, May 21, 1998
BIGGINS (DRUEKE) ó Jane Biggins, formerly of Grand Rapids, born November 4, 1914 died May 17, 1998, in Florence, OR. She is survived by her brother, William F. Drueke, Sr. of Grand Rapids; her children, Emily Williams of Florence, OR, Peter Biggins of Darien, CT, Jim Biggins of Washington, DC, Sarah Kelzenberg of Denver, CO and Bill Biggins of San Francisco, CA. She had 14 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews of Grand Rapids. Memorial Mass will be held May 21 at St. Maryís Our Lady of the Dunes Catholic Church in Florence, OR.

The Siuslaw News, June 10, 1998
BIGGINSóJane Marie Biggins of Florence died May 18, 1998, at age 83. She was born Nov. 4, 1914, in Grand Rapids, Mich., to William F. and Rose Drueke. She enjoyed being a part of the Friendship Club and working with the ladies of St. Maryís Church. She was married to her husband Al Biggins for 42 years. Biggins is survived by five children, Emily Williams of Florence, Peter Biggins of Darien, Conn., Jim Biggins of Washington, D.C., Sarah Kelzenberg of Denver, Colo., and Bill Biggins of San Francisco, Calif.; 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. A memorial mass was held on May 21 at St. Maryís Our Lady of the Dunes Catholic Church in Florence. Burnsís Riverside Chapel Florence Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

Tombstone for Jane and Al Biggins
Tombstone for Al and Jane Biggins at Woodlawn Cemetery in Grand Rapids.

Descendants of John Alfred and Jane Drueke Biggins: 5 children

Emily Jane Biggins b. 1938  m. 1962 John David Williams 1937-2016

Peter Alfred Biggins b. 1939  m. 1964 Marilyn Kathryn Carroll 1940-2020

James Alfred Biggins b. 1941  m. 1969 Anne Roarty 1944-2014

Sarah Jane Biggins b. 1943  m. 1969 Elroy John Kelzenberg b. 1938

William Alfred Biggins b. 1947  m. 1986 Christie Ann Mays b. 1948

14 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren

Information on grandchildren and great grandchildren has been excluded. A version of this page without the exclusion is available upon request. Contact Peter Biggins:


Peter: pabiggin@optonline.net




230 Old Kings Highway North
Darien, CT 06820 USA

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