Donald E. Rigby, 64, analyst at SSA mentor and counselor to young people

June 09, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Donald Everett Rigby, a Baltimore native who as a youth mentor and counselor used an "open door" policy to befriend numerous city youths, died Wednesday of cancer at his Northwest Baltimore home.

Mr. Rigby, 64, not only advised and taught disadvantaged youths since the 1980s, but acted as a big brother for many.

"He was simply just good with children, and children seemed to gravitate to him like a magnet," said his wife, the former Vivian Morgan, whom he married in 1956. "It was just natural that they liked each other.

"It was always his idea to make sure the young people were the focus of everything."

Friends and relatives said that after retirement from the Social Security Administration in 1994, Mr. Rigby devoted much of his time to work with youngsters.

"He had a very laid-back but effective approach to working with the kids," said Charles Tildon, a longtime friend and fraternity brother with the Kappa Alpha Psi organization. "He always got things done. But he was never in the limelight, never hogging the credit."

Much of Mr. Rigby's work with youngsters was through the Guide Right program of the Baltimore chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi and the 100 Black Men of Maryland, a mentoring and counseling organization that assists inner-city youths.

Colleagues said Mr. Rigby mentored or counseled more than 200 youths over the years. He began mentoring one youth when the boy was 8 and continued to see him into his teens.

"He took them on as his own," said Roger Kelly of Baltimore, a longtime friend. "He took him to the zoo, to the circus. Everywhere."

100 Black Men of Maryland plans to provide a full college scholarship for the youth in Mr. Rigby's name.

A lifelong resident of Baltimore, Mr. Rigby graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in 1951 and the former Morgan State College in 1956.

He worked several jobs -- including a stint as a cook for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and as a mail handler for the U.S. Postal Service -- upon his graduation before working as a statistician for the Maryland Department of Public Welfare from 1957 to 1965.

He was a research analyst with the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in Washington from 1965 to 1973, and with the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn from 1973 until he retired in 1994.

He had been active with the Kappa fraternity for many years, was past president of the local chapter and past national chairman of the organization's Achievement Commission. He was a charter member of the local chapter of 100 Black Men of Maryland.

Services were held yesterday.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Duane Rigby; a daughter, Pamela Annette Rigby; his mother, Annette Loggins Rigby; two brothers, Paul Rigby and James Allan Rigby; and a granddaughter. All are of Baltimore.

Pub Date: 6/09/98

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