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Mark Riggs '76 April 22, 2021 1:57 PM updated: April 22, 2021 2:17 PM

Mark William Riggs
March 15, 1953 - December 14, 2020

Dr. Mark Riggs, ACU professor and past chair of the Department of Mathematics, died Dec. 14 of the devastating effects of Covid-19. He was 67.

An outdoor memorial service at the Beauchamp Amphitheatre on the ACU campus is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday. Masks will be required and social distancing observed. The service will also be livestreamed on Facebook for those who cannot attend at

Riggs served 27 years on the ACU faculty, from 1980-87 and again beginning in 2003. He began the department’s actuarial science program, and taught all three of its statistics courses.

From 1987-2003 he was director of the department of biostatistics at Scott and White Hospital in Temple. For eight of those years, he was co-director of the Coordinating Center for the Central Vein Occlusion Study, funded by National Eye Institute and National Institutes of Health. He also led his department during its research on a pediatric, nasal flu vaccine study in partnership with Johns Hopkins University.

When Riggs began the actuarial science program at ACU he wanted to be able to help students prepare for the first two national exams in the field so he took them himself, and passed. Riggs also used his statistical knowledge to support other faculty research and assisted numerous colleagues in dissertation research.

Riggs was born in Tyler, March 15, 1953, to Roy and Joyce Riggs, the first of their two sons. He graduated from Dallas’ Kimball High School before coming to ACU where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1975. A year later, he completed a master’s degree in statistics at Texas A&M University where he also earned his Ph.D. in the field in 1981.

While a graduate student at Texas A&M he met Debbie Adams through the A&M Church of Christ’s Aggies for Christ student ministry. The couple married Aug. 11, 1979, in Graham and had two children, Katie and Will. In recent years, Riggs’ favorite times were spent with his three grandchildren, Henry and Riggs Maxwell, and Minnie Riggs, kicking a soccer ball, or occasionally helping Henry with math homework.

He was active in the worship ministry at Highland Church of Christ, continuing a lifelong love of music as a vocalist and playing his viola, admired by colleagues and students for his musicianship. In addition to performing in recent years with the ACU Orchestra and ACU choral groups, Riggs played during his years in Temple with the Central Texas Orchestra and Marlandwood Strings quartet, and earlier with the San Angelo Symphony.

Survivors include his wife, Debbie, daughter Katie and husband Matt Maxwell and their sons Henry and Riggs, all of Abilene; son Will and wife Courtney and their daughter Minnie of Dallas; brother Bruce Riggs of Dallas and beloved nephew Ben and niece Beth.

The family has established an endowed scholarship honoring Riggs’ memory to benefit students in the actuarial science program. Memorial gifts may be sent to ACU Gift Records, ACU Box 29132, Abilene, TX, 79602 or on-line at - please note Mark Riggs scholarship fund.

Condolences may be offered to the family online at

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