BONNERS FERRY, Idaho — Joe E. Figgins, 78, died Oct. 29, 2009, after a battle with cancer.
The funeral will be 11 a.m. Monday at Bonners Ferry Funeral Home, 6485 Harrison St., with private burial in Grandview Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Bonners Community Hospice.
Mr. Figgins was born Jan. 6, 1931, in Courtland, Kan., to John and Maude Figgins. The family struggled to survive hard times on their family farm. When Mr. Figgins was 8, his father died, leading his mother to sell the farm to pay bills. With only a picnic basket of food and a $300 loan from a friend, the family boarded a train for Walla Walla to join his two older brothers who were stationed here working for the WPA.
In 1949 he graduated from Walla Walla High School and was an All-American halfback in football. He turned down a scholarship to play at Notre Dame and chose Washington State University. During that time he met future bride Lilly M. Smith at the wedding of his best friend, who was marrying Lilly’s sister. He and Lilly Smith married Jan. 21, 1951. They immediately moved to Bonners Ferry, where they farmed for her father, George W. Smith.
A 1956 flood devastated most of the Kootenai Valley farms. He often recalled how "he was knee-deep in debt ever since." Tired of fighting flooding, in 1962 he bought a small hog farm on the North Bench of Bonners Ferry. It became an efficient operation, producing more than 2,000 market hogs per year, and was his pride and joy.
He was one of the first farmers to grow White Dutch clover seed in the valley. He grew alfalfa hay and was involved with the introduction of hops into the county. After Libby Dam was built, he focused his attention on the Kootenai Valley.
In 1996 his wife suffered a debilitating stroke; he spent his retirement years caring for her, as well as taking care of his lawn and volunteer petunia patch.
He is survived by his wife; three sons, Joe Figgins, John Figgins and George Figgins; two daughters, Peggy Dexter and Carol Ehrmantrout; 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and all of his brothers and sisters.