January 4, 1926 - January 11, 2019 (Age 93)
Connie Riggins passed away in Cape Coral, Florida. She served the American Legion Jersey Boys State program for over 40 years. Daughter of Harold "Chief" Eaton, the first Director of the ALJBS program, Connie served many roles during the weeklong program from sales in the store to typist in the office; for many years during the graduation ceremony, she would present the "Staff Years of Service" pins to fellow staff awarded in 5-year increments.
In the 1983 yearbook she recalled that she "can remember stuffing envelopes with all the information the boys needed. We would spread them all out on the long living room floor at my Dad's and Mom's (Chief Eaton's) house and fill them as fast as we could. And that was when we only had 250 boys! We thought it was a big job then...!" In that 1983 session, the 38th session, there were 920 statesmen and her primary concern was for the Sunday registration process.
Connie's nephew Todd Eaton, tragically lost his life in June 1988, two years after attending ALJBS. Todd was a "runner" and volunteer member of the staff for eight years prior to his attendance in the program. In 1988, Connie and the other volunteers established the Todd Eaton Award in honor of her nephew, bestowed annually to the statesman that best exemplifies the spirit of the ALJBS program. Even after she was unable to attend the program for a full week, she would present the Todd Eaton Award during the graduation ceremony.
A dedicated staff member, in 1986 she received the Harry V. Groome Award given to the most outstanding volunteer. Jim Bracchitta, ALJBS senior staff member, recalled "She was a vibrant, funny, delightful presence, and took me under her wing when I was first on staff. I adored her." In addition, Executive Director David S. Bagatelle explained "The American Legion Jersey Boys State program has a rich history with exceptional volunteers who established this program, Connie Riggins was one whose efforts should not be overlooked."
Held at Rider University every year beginning on Father's Day, ALJBS has a strong tradition of education, patriotism and excellence in the development of tomorrow's leaders at our week-long hands-on program.
To develop good citizens in the United States of America by inspiring the youth of New Jersey to take a more active and intelligent interest in the operation of our State and Nation and in the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship and to understand the sacrifices made by our veterans to preserve our nation and way of life.