Charlie D. Wiggs
Class of 1949
Daily Press (Newport News, VA), Saturday, September 4, 1993
'CAROLINA CHARLIE' WIGGS, LOCAL COUNTRY MUSIC LEGEND
At the end of each show, country music fans heard the strains of "Most Richly Blessed", by Archie Campbell, and knew "Carolina Charlie" was again signing off the air. On Thursday, Sept. 2, local radio legend Charles D. "Carolina Charlie" Wiggs Sr., died. He was 61.
The name he was best known as, "Carolina Charlie," came from a suggestion by a Virginia Beach club owner in the 1950's because Mr. Wiggs was from North Carolina. The man felt it would give him more recognition. Apparently, he was right.
The first night he and his band, the Sunset Valley Boys, appeared with his new name, the club was packed. The following Monday, Wiggs had "Carolina Charlie" painted on his guitar.
Mr. Wiggs began singing and playing in country music bands after he graduated from Portsmouth's Cradock High School in 1949.
While he was working as an insurance agent in 1961, he enrolled in a radio course offered by WCMS-AM (1050). Within two days, they put him on the air. From the very beginning he had his finger on the country music scene. His afternoon show was the most popular on any radio station.
At the same time, he was singing and playing with The Four C's which was the number one country group in the area. After the band broke up in 1969, Mr. Wiggs played in other bands, including The Heavy Cowboys. Over the years, he was the opening act for most of the Grand Ole Opry stars that performed in this area.
Mr. Wiggs left WCMS in 1976 to work at WNIS-AM (850), which played country music before it became an all-talk station. He then worked for a variety of stations during the late 1970s and 1980s. He joined WPEX-AM (1490) in 1985 where he worked on and off until October 1991 when the station went gospel.
Though he often credited luck for his long career as a country music singer, radio announcer and publisher, people who knew him best saw it differently.
His partner, wife and best friend, Millie Wiggs, claimed that he had something vital to a career such as his: charisma. "When he was on stage, people watched him. He was a star," she said.
In 1987, Mr. Wiggs and his wife started The Country Star, a free monthly newspaper on the country music scene. The first issue appeared on July 4, 1987. It contained the first installment of Notes and Rumors, the popular monthly column which ran in the Daily Press' inRoads magazine each Friday.
In June of this year he started another newspaper Country Kids. Mr. Wiggs loved children and wanted to encourage their love of country music. The newspaper is written by and for kids up to the age of 16, but even grown-ups love it.
A longtime friend and co-worker at The Country Star, Cindy Tickler, remembers Mr. Wiggs as "super to work for. He really told things like they were. You know, he didn't worry about himself, he worried about everyone else around him."
Mr. Wiggs' generosity and willingness to perform for charities was well-known. Tickler said this generosity was not limited to big-name functions.
"Sure he attended and performed in a lot of fund-raisers, but he would do anything for someone he knew was in need. He'd help pay someone's hospital bill and contributed to more charities than I can list. He never met a stranger. If he had any enemies, I never knew about them."
A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., he attended Calvary Temple Church. He was a member of Lynhaven Masonic Lodge 220, the Virginia Country Music Association and Country Music Association, Nashville, Tenn.
He is survived by his wife, Millie E. Wiggs; four daughters, Patricia Ann Luchau of Chesapeake, Tracey Lynn Wiggs and Cristina Beckner, both of Norfolk, and Tiffany Wiggs of Virginia Beach; three sons, Charles Wiggs Jr. and William E. Wiggs, both of Norfolk, and Bobby W. Wiggs of Virginia Beach; a sister, Betty Andrews of Norfolk; and four grandchildren.
The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Kellum Funeral Home, Pleasant Hall Chapel. A funeral will be conducted at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home by the Rev. Lamar Sentell. Burial will be in Rosewood Memorial Park.
Memorial donations may be made to the Charles D. Wiggs Trust Fund, P.O. Box 68550, Virginia Beach 23455.