Emily Biggins Williams, James Alfred Biggins, Sarah Biggins Kelzenberg, William Alfred Biggins, Rev. Louis Derbes, CM, and Mary Rooney contributed to this family history.
Index Chicago Map 1940 Census Directories Wilmette in the 1950s Descendants Family Tree Home Page
Al Born in 1910
Chicago, 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
In 1932, Al was godfather for his second cousin Daniel Minogue. The Minogues lived at 934 Barry Street in Chicago.
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.
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
Grand 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The Grand Rapids Herald, Friday, November 5, 1937
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
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 for three months after they were married at 1011 Chester Street SE. They then moved to 817 Ballard Street SE in Grand Rapids. This was 2.5 miles south of 120 Grand Avenue.
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 her sponsors.
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.
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.
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.
In 1941, Al and Jane moved a mile and a half south to another house in Kalamazoo at 1518 Evanston Avenue.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. More than any other place, this is where the Biggins children grew up.
For more on what life was like for the Biggins family growing up in Wilmette in the 1950s, see: Wilmette in the 1950s.
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 our house. In the kindergarten room, there was a 23-foot WPA mural entitled "Rural Landscape" 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.
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.
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 headwhich 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 upa great embarrassment to Peter.
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.
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 Stamford 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.
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.
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 William went to Loyola Academy in Wilmette for high school. When Al and Jane moved to the Keys, William 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
In May 1998, a week before she died, Jane purchased a new house in Florence at 1441 Willow Loop.
Jane Dies in 1998 at Age 83
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
The Siuslaw News, June 10, 1998
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:
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