By Leigh Howe
I grew up in a small town called Hope, Indiana, population 2,140. Last week, Hope lost one of their greatest promoters and contributors, Charles T. Biggs, 63. Charlie was an educator, publisher, school board member, musician, town historian, volunteer fireman and the list goes on.
And Charlie had a vision for Hope. He believed that in order to survive a small town needed a school, a grocery store, a post office, and most of all a newspaper. Charlie used his passion for his newspaper, for teaching, for music and for Hope to motivate and guide others in his community to build a better town.
Charlie was not a native of Hope but it quickly became his hometown when he moved his family there in 1966. Charlie Biggs became the owner, publisher and editor of the The Hope-Star Journal and also put in 27 years as teacher and band director at Hauser Jr.-Sr. High School. Charlie was also a founding member of the Hope Planning Commission, Hope Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment.
I remember Charlie as Mr. Biggs because he was my high school band director and music theory teacher — two classes at Hauser High School in Hope that I wouldn’t fully appreciate until years later. While I was a mediocre flutist at best, Mr. Biggs taught me the value being part of the band as well as an appreciation for music. The students in the band learned the importance of being involved in a group and achieving goals as a group. Mr. Biggs was demanding but also allowed us the opportunity to earn many fun activities, such as trips to Washington, D.C. and St. Louis that we paid for by selling candy, popcorn, and many other things.
So, who is your town’s Charlie Biggs? I hope that your community is as lucky as the Town of Hope to have had such a selfless contributor. You probably have many! While Charlie will never be replaced, hopefully he has inspired others to take up the causes of their community. I only wish that I had written this earlier so he could have read it. Take time to celebrate your community’s greatest promoters and contributors! These people are in the trenches every day – the teachers, school board members, volunteer firemen, town historians, chamber board members, newspapers publishers and writers, and on and on. These people and personalities are the ones who bring your community to life.