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Remembering former Sun Prairie teacher, coach killed in crash

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Riggins and Ruby

SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) -- Family and friends are sharing stories about a man who made a huge impact in Sun Prairie.

Stephen Riggins was killed in a crash last week in Dekorra township, in Columbia County.

According to the Columbia county sheriff's office, an Alliant Energy utility truck didn't stop at a stop sign, hitting Riggins's car, killing him and his dog Ruby.

"Amazing, guy, just absolutely amazing," current Sun Prairie Track Coach Doug Maughan, said.

"He got excited about what he was teaching, he loved history," current Sun Prairie Cross Country Coach, Paul Frank, said.

"It didn't matter where you were, you could hear him laugh," Former athlete and current middle school teacher, Scott Nelson, said.

Friends and family of Steve Riggins say he was more than just a history teacher or track and cross country coach in Sun Prairie.

"We've heard, "Your dad saved my life," "Your dad changed my life," several times," Kelsey Riggins, his middle daughter, said.

She is following in his footsteps, as a track coach at Murray State University in Kentucky. She says her family is doing their best to stay strong, but the pain of his passing is still raw.

"You don't realize how great something is until it's no longer there," she said. "I guess we were spoiled, I was spoiled for 33 years, my mom for way longer than that."

His work family is also missing him.

Riggins worked at Sun Prairie High School for 30 years.

"He's the kind of guy you look up to," Maughan said. "That's the kind of guy you want to be, right? You want to be the guy who coaches for 20 plus years. You want to be the guy who teaches for 20 plus years, you want to be the person that impacts kids 24/7 365 and that's the kind of guy he was."

Riggins taught and coached thousands of students and athletes throughout his years.

Among those was Paul Frank, who had Riggins as a History teacher and coach at the beginning of his career, who said he was inspired by the things he learned under Riggins.

"One of the things as teachers, we reflect sometimes, and we look at what impact have we had on kids," Frank said. "That's Steve Riggins, he got kids excited about learning more about history."

Kelsey said that his impact couldn't be pinned down to one moment, but the culmination of the impact he had on all those students.

"Growing up a teacher's kid you share your parents like they have other 'kids'," she said. "He made everybody feel special and he was genuine that was one of the things in my, when I spoke at the funeral that for me just carries on, just being a genuine person."

While not set in stone yet, his friends and colleagues at the school are planning to start a scholarship fund in his name.

His daughter said he would be embarrassed by the recognition but humbled knowing his memory would help students progress their education

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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