Mason Beuhring, Communications & Program Services Director at Marietta Community Foundation, sits down with Roland “Chips” Riggs, member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, to get to know this prominent community member.
Mason Beuhring: How did you end up in Marietta?
Roland “Chips” Riggs: My parents are from Marietta and I grew up here, so I consider this home. I was away when I went off to college and law school, but then I came back here because I thought it was a good community in which to live and raise children. It was also a place where I could get a good professional start in practicing law.
MB: What kind of law did you practice?
RCR: I was the law director for the City of Marietta for 38 years and I had a private law practice in addition to that. I also did a little part-time teaching in the Economics & Business Department at Marietta College.
MB: Where did you attend school after graduating from Marietta?
RCR: For my undergrad, I attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. I was in the School of Foreign Affairs, studying economics, government, and history. For law school, I went to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
MB: As a professional who has practiced law for a great span of time, what advice would you give to someone who is entering law school?
RCR: In most law schools, the first year curriculum is already established and there aren’t any electives for you to choose. If possible, I recommend you do an internship or work as a clerk at a law firm in your first year so that you can make a determination about what areas of law interest you. Then you can choose good electives to learn from in the second and third years of study.
MB: So how did you get involved with the Foundation?
RCR: My first involvement was back when Bill Thompson was the Chairman of the Board, and it’s been so long I don’t even know if I could put a decade on it! I think it was back in the 1980s, but he had contacted me to do one or two minor things. That brought the Foundation into my thinking and then I had a couple of clients in the course of estate planning make gifts to the Foundation, which I think is a wonderful thing to do.
Later I was contacted by Eric Erb and Doug Robinson about serving on the Board and here I am!
MB: You entered retirement after spending close to 40 years serving this community as the city’s Law Director. The general assumption with retirement is that it is time to sit back and relax, but you have chosen to use this time to continue serving this community. What inspired you to utilize your time in this way?
RCR: I don’t think it’s good, when you retire, to just sit at home. I think if you have talents, and I’m not sure that I have any, then you have an obligation to do what you can. If there is some benefit to be gained from my perspective or what I bring to the Board room, then that’s great.
MB: In my short time with the Foundation, one thing that has stuck out to me, about you, is that you are very calm and collected. You’re very wise, you are slow to speak, but when you do speak it is always worthwhile.
I have also observed a lighter-hearted side to your personality. So what are some hobbies you enjoy when the situation is less serious?
RCR: I like to read, I play a below-average game of golf, and I enjoy hiking. My friend, Ed Lane, and I travel around to go hiking, but we mainly stay in West Virginia and parts of Ohio. We like to stay close to home, so we typically don’t go more than a two-hour drive.
My wife and I also like to travel and visit our son and daughter.
MB: You mentioned reading is a favorite hobby, do you have any favorite authors?
RCR: I’ve had a number over the years, but my reading choices are fairly eclectic. For novels, most recently I have been reading novels by Haruki Murakami, a Japanese author who wrote 1Q84 and Killing Commendatore. For something that is more on the intellectual side, there is an Israeli historian named Yuval Noah Harari. He wrote a book called 21 Lessons From the 21st Century that I thought was excellent. It really made me think about the world we live in and how we should approach it in our daily lives.
One of the lessons in his book, I think, makes what we do at the Foundation meaningful and important. I’m paraphrasing, but he believes that we have an obligation to help one another through life… that life is not always easy and that we do what we can to help others.
MB: How do you see that philosophy influence the work you do with the Foundation?
RCR: That philosophy represents what the Foundation is all about... helping others. I don’t ever think it’s a bad thing to help others.
MB: With that in mind, has there been a particular project, funded by the Foundation, that you have enjoyed?
RCR: I don’t think I could name a favorite project. To me, there are many worthwhile applicants and the Foundation has limited resources. So the challenge is in striking a balance between immediate needs, like food, clothing, and shelter, and long-range needs, like education or economic development.
MB: Chips, I appreciate you coming in to speak with me!