Lloyd E. Biggs
Lloyd E. Biggs, an ordained minister, served as a treasurer and president of several conferences during a career that spanned over fifty years. He enjoyed a reputation as a farsighted person who was willing to do whatever was necessary to realize important goals and bring about needed changes.
Biggs was born in Lake, South Dakota, on May 31, 1893, the oldest of eight children of Thomas McDonald and Julia Etta Smith Biggs. He attended Union College, where he was active as a pianist and violinist and then transferred to Walla Walla College, now University, student where he conducted the orchestra and gave violin lessons in return for the fees collected from his students.
He enjoyed performing and was one of the first Adventists to play in the symphony in nearby Walla Walla. A tall, slender man, he provided a familiar and amusing sight as he pedaled his bicycle around town with his violin case tucked under his arm.
While in school, he also worked as a bookkeeper at the Walla Walla Sanitarium, now the Walla Walla General Hospital. Following his graduation from WWC in 1915, he was hired as secretary-treasurer by the Upper Columbia Conference. He then served in that same position in the Washington, Iowa, and Southeastern California conferences as well as for a brief term in Zambezi Union Mission, Bulawayo, South Africa.
He had married Berneice Belle Catlin on August 16, 1915, after she had graduated from the Academic and he from the Commercial programs at WWC that spring. They had a daughter, Barbara Jean (Donaldson), in 1918, while living in the Walla Walla area and a son, Calvin Ernest, in 1924, while in South Africa.
Upon his return to the U.S. Biggs served in various capacities in the Washington Conference and in the Pacific Union, where, after being ordained in March 1940, he served as treasurer of the Southeastern California Conference for two years, then as president until 1944, when he became vice president for financial affairs at the College of Medical Evangelists, now Loma Linda University.
Two years later he became treasurer of the Oregon Conference and in 1948 he was elected president of the conference, a position he would hold for fourteen years. During his presidency, he became known as a successful builder of churches. In 1962, he accepted an invitation to serve as Religious Liberty Secretary of the North Pacific Union Conference.
Biggs interest in music continued in what could be described as a semi-retirement. While attending a conference camp meeting on the Walla Walla College campus, he attended a meeting in the college church, where organist Melvin West played on a recently installed partially complete pipe organ. He approached West following the meeting and volunteered to help raise money to complete the installation. West later recalled how the offer happened:
I had been asked to play a solo on the organ during the Education Hour for camp meeting. I had chosen the Vierne Carillon de Westminster. Biggs came up after the meeting and said, "Dr. West, I really appreciated hearing you play, but I think your organ is minus quite a few stops, " which he proceeded to list.
Then he looked right at me and asked, "Would you mind if I raised the rest of the money for the organ?" I was stunned and said, "What did you say?" Well, that was the beginning of a friendship that lasted until he passed away. He did exactly what he said, challenging the college board to match him on a one-to-one basis.
Biggs was preceded in death by his wife on March 10, 1962, at age 67, while they were living in Portland, Oregon, and by his son on July 30, 1966, who was living Shasta, California. He died on July 18, 1973, in Loma Linda, California, at age eighty.
Sources: Obituaries, North Pacific Union Gleaner, September 3, 1973, pg. 16, and Pacific Union Recorder, December 17, 1973 (all with incorrect birth day); (wedding announcement), NPUC Gleaner, August 19, 1915, p. 6; V.G. Anderson, “Secretary-Treasurer and Auditor,” NPUC Gleaner, December 24, 1946, pgs. 1,2; PU Recorder, March 27, 1940, pg. 10 (ordination);Claude Thurston, Sixty Years of Progress, 1952, WWC College Press, pg.185; Issues of African Division Outlook, July 15, 1922 to July 15, 1925; 1900, 1920, 1940 U.S. Federal Census Records, family charts, and California Death Records for Llloyd and Berneice listing of records, all at Ancestry.com; Interview with Melvin West with Dan Shultz, January 1991.