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Interview with Walter C. Biggs, February 20, 2003 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Walter C. Biggs, February 20, 2003
Date:
February 20, 2003
Description:
In the first tape, Walter Biggs introduces himself and begins with his history with UNCW. Dr. Biggs is an alumnus of Wilmington College, having graduated from the college in 1951 back when it was a junior college. He describes Wilmington College during this time, including the layout of the Isaac Bear building. Dr. Biggs was a faculty member of the biological sciences department from 1960-1994. Dr. Biggs discusses the department and some of the people he knew. In the second tape, Dr. Biggs shows the interviewer some of the papers he has brought with him, including columns he has written for the biological sciences department alumni newsletter. Topics discussed in both tapes include: his obtaining a Ph.D. in biological sciences from NCSU while on leave; his research interests in mammalogy; and the Order of the Society of Isaac Bear.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Biggs, Walter C. Interviewer: Lack, Adina Date of Interview: 2/20/2003 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 109 minutes

Lack: My name is Adina Lack. I’m the archivist and special collections librarian here at UNCW. Today is February 20, 2003. We’re in the Randall Library conference room. I’m very pleased to have with me a special guest. Sir, please introduce yourself.

Biggs: My name is Walter Biggs, Jr. I was born in Brunswick County. I went to school from grade 1 to about grade 9. It was very nice, country schools, somewhat consolidated. A very close group of kids. My father died at the end of that period of time basically and my mother and I moved to Wilmington. My schooling moved to New Hanover High School. So I graduated from New Hanover High School.

Then I started looking at the possibilities. That was a period of time that people were working toward developing a college school in the city here. A fairly complicated procedure. I think Cruz fought for brevity and did a good job in letting us know how it got started. He did a good job in sending forth the facts, not all the details necessarily, but the facts.

Speaking of Wilmington College, I knew all the people there. Many of the people who I came to be involved in schoolwork were the people I knew in high school.

Lack: Did you enroll in Wilmington College?

Biggs: Yes, I did for the next year and of course at that time, it was a two year program as you’re aware I’m sure. So I went for those two years and then I had to go to another place to finish and that was East Carolina. I graduated from there with a B.S. degree. Things went on from there.

Lack: What year did you finish high school?

Biggs: I’d have to think about that, 1950-51 and then the next two years were at East Carolina.

Lack: You must know Carol Ellis then?

Biggs: Yes, this is a faculty member you’re talking about. Yeah, sure I’ve seen her.

Lack: Because she went to Wilmington College also.

Biggs: Absolutely and I’ve been aware of her through the years I was here. She’s a member of the Order of Isaac Bear that you were talking about. She can give you lots of good information.

Lack: Well what was that like? You were taking classes in the Isaac Bear Building I suppose downtown Wilmington.

Biggs: Of course initially it was military people, they took up some space in the high school building and also at the airport. Some facilities out there were made available to them for primarily mechanical things, not typical routine college material, but nonetheless it was an important aspect for their future continuation of education. The work that was done here by the military, the people who were no longer in the Army but had been, they helped the school to grow in the sense that the GI Bill was in the process of developing. I’m not sure of the details how that really developed.

Nonetheless a lot of the finances for the institution were a result of the military group, the retirees. Their presence led to some relatively minor, if you looked at the numbers in the paper, $5 for an enrollment of a course credit. At any rate, it helped it grow.

Lack: Are you saying it helped the community back the college?

Biggs: Yes, of course the community was behind the college from the very beginning. I can remember that. It was very strongly supported and there were a lot of education people in the community, the public schools primarily in mind there were strongly in favor of progressing the development of higher education in this part of North Carolina.

Lack: How was your experience there? Once you got to East Carolina, did you feel like you were well prepared?

Biggs: Yes. East Carolina is a good school. I think we came there with the basic beginning level materials. Of course the high school here is a good one. The welfare of the county, not just the county but this whole area, was basic to them, the leaders were seeking to provide. I don’t know if I’m rambling. East Carolina, I took the courses I needed to continue.

Lack: What was your Bachelor’s degree in? Biology?

Biggs: Biology. I had a number of interests. I don’t know why I chose that particularly, but yes I had interest in history and those kinds of things. Of course in two years I finished that program. I was looking at some of my records last night so I could get it straight in my mind. From there, I went to East Carolina. We just talked about that. I did some special programs at North Carolina State.

Summer programs such as Moorehead City to the Marine base there. While I’m not a Marine biologist, that did bring some awareness of marine areas as potential for a high level of biological studies. In due time, we got a very strong, very valuable marine program. I’m not saying it came from that, no, but certainly it pointed out that there was something here that we needed to make use of and build into our educational program.

Lack: Do you remember anything about your experience at Wilmington College? Anything in particular?

Biggs: I could spend a good while there. There were two years I wasn’t at those, I came in basically the 3rd and up, the programs were developing. The second two years of course we were developing as a campus, an active campus.

Lack: Because the school opened in ’47 or so. You came on in the early 50’s.

Biggs: Basically the second two years I was there and got involved. Having gone to high school just across the street makes it very easy to deal with things there. It wasn’t a strange place by any means.

Lack: We have some pictures, I believe there was a café or I don’t know what they called it, a lunchroom.

Biggs: It was a cafeteria in the high school in the downstairs area. That’s where the students in that school could have lunch if they chose, but there were other places to go to.

Lack: Around town.

Biggs: There was a drug store several blocks away. A faculty member lived next to the drug store and he was a friendly guy and he would take us there.

Lack: Took you there to have lunch, oh, that’s nice. Do you remember any of the teachers from back then?

Biggs: Oh yes. Having said that, I’ll have to think. They’re strongly in my mind. But I don’t necessarily remember the words. This guy I was talking about was a history teacher. Maybe his name will come to me. Then there were a number of people who we dealt with as part of the small two year college and the high school kids. Some of the people who were teaching at the high school came over and ended up at the college.

The biology teacher was…the names are sort of leaving me. Maybe I can help you with this later.

Lack: You may know Mary Bellamy then. She taught in the college.

Biggs: Mary was my Spanish teacher in high school so I knew her real well. Over there we were close together and knew one another. Helped that relationship.

Lack: Because she went over to the college and taught I believe.

Biggs: Yes, I don’t remember if she continued some classes at the high school.

Lack: I think she did.

Biggs: But she certainly was at the college and there were other people in language there. She taught Spanish primarily. I wasn’t very strong on language. There was also a man whose name I can’t remember. I remember Miss Bellamy from high school. Some of the guys in the class would take advantage, I guess she was new. She had just gotten out of her degree and she was young and some of the guys liked to throw balls, rowdy that some types of guys may take advantage of with a teacher who is new and a little inexperienced of course. She’s become a very significant and valuable member of the university coming through the years to now.

Lack: That’s funny. She told a story about how she had to teach, she had a homeroom that was just awful. She was teaching at the college, but she had to go across the street and do this homeroom for the high school and all the students in it were taking like shop classes or something. She just was so funny. When she was telling us the story.

Biggs: Of course shop was also at the high school so there was a program that took advantage of both schools. I’m sure you’re aware of this, but let me be sure, that Wilmington College, well let’s move on to the full years of the school, was located across the road from Brogden Hall. You know where that it is obviously. So there’s a relationship there. So they made some use of those facilities. Basketball wasn’t like it was last night, but nonetheless.

It was very interesting how it progressed. The space used primarily by the school derived from the public school, Isaac Bear was an elementary school. It was convenient and provided some of the things we needed. I don’t know what became of the rest of the Isaac Bear people. It certainly contributed to the space needed. You probably undoubtedly heard and read stories about things of that nature.

Lack: When you were taking classes at Wilmington College, were the classes in the high school or were they in the Isaac Bear building?

Biggs: Isaac Bear.

Lack: And that had been an elementary school or something.

Biggs: It shows the cooperation of the counties and the whole area. The idea of a college in this area was very strong to the people in charge of public schools. They cooperated. The photograph on the cover of Marshall’s book is what we’re talking about of course. The administration area was just inside the door to the left and the main administrative people worked in offices there. The classes were scattered.

The basement in the back down below, it wasn’t very far down but it was a few steps and it was largely a place that students could hang out or go to to have some recreation such as ping pong. Marshall Cruz and this biology teacher, his name will come to me in a minute…

Lack: Dr. Adcock?

Biggs: No, Adcock I think was in chemistry. You can check on that pretty easily.

Lack: Jack Dermott?

Biggs: No, Jack came later. After we got into the campus out here in this area, he came. Paul Wright, I knew it would come. He and Marshall Cruz were avid ping pong players and they’d come out and play.

Lack: That must have been fun, to watch the teachers.

Biggs: Yes, it was. There wasn’t much there to do. Some of them brought card games and so on. There was a place where there were some goodies you could buy.

Lack: A vending area?

Biggs: Yes, a vending area.

Lack: This was in the basement of Isaac Bear?

Biggs: Yes, in the basement under the stairs. Marshall Cruz claims to have bought the first box of candy that was sold there. Then they buy more, and so on, implying he didn’t. He’s real proud of having done that. I don’t know how much detail I can go into. Up above where the basement was located, part of it became a lab for biology classes. Also some space up there was an improved recreation or the ability to buy stacks up there, it was enlarged. That led to what we got out here.

Lack: So the space above at one point was a biology lab.

Biggs: Well it was separate, but the space above the lab in the back of the building provided space for a lab and a snack bar. I’m trying to figure out which was which and how they were arranged, but I can’t quite figure out how much was done in that space.

Lack: It’s incredible, people just made use of it.

Biggs: There was stored lab materials. People were doing what was needed. To have this, you see the results in here. The building provided other things obviously, but the chemistry lab was at the right of the front door as you went in. Physics lab was in there somewhere, I don’t remember exactly well.

Lack: You’re doing well.

Biggs: There were several faculty members.

Lack: Well here’s the Order of Isaac Bear.

Biggs: You remember Tom Brown, don’t you?

Lack: I haven’t talked to him yet, but I know him.

Biggs: He can certainly add a lot to your information. He’s no longer associated with the university I think.

Lack: I think he’s still teaching part time.

Biggs: He’d been teaching ever since I first met him, gosh knows how many years at it. He keeps at it. There’s a number of people like that. Tommy Lupton is in the same sort of category, Lewis, Ed, and Adcock, can’t get rid of him. He says they’re going to have to carry him out in a trolley or something.

Lack: I think they must be good teachers too though. They teach away. Tom Brown I believe is still teaching math.

Biggs: I was trying to think of the chemistry teacher. Here’s my name here. There was an upstairs. There was a good downstairs classroom. That was where I taught my class in biology. Upstairs were other labs. There was a room converted to a library. So there was space in that building and there was a conversion of uses of course. It was not an elaborate library to be sure, nonetheless many of the needs were provided. Students would come up, there were tables. There are pictures of students in the lab with their books open.

There’s also some courses having to do with people training for work, sales or business and so on. That was a program. There were a couple of persons there who were very much involved there in that aspect of education that had a practical value for the students.

Lack: Well there was also Dorothy Marshall.

Biggs: Right, you can’t forget Dorothy. She and Marshall Cruz were here from very early. Dorothy is very important, gone through several different jobs. You know all about that. You’ve talked to her I’m sure.

Lack: Oh yes, she taught some business, typing related courses and then she was registrar for many years. She was in admissions for many years. She’s a nice lady.

Biggs: She has been a really important person here because of the knowledge she has and the information she can pass and the skills she has in the area of administering for the institution and she’s still with it.

Lack: Let’s talk about when you finished your college at ECU.

Biggs: Let me get you one more person and that’s Paul Howell. I feel you know him as well as I do.

Lack: No, I never met him unfortunately.

Biggs: He was upstairs in Isaac Bear. Wasn’t much space for it. He was there, the art program was there and was beginning. Of course, you see over here at the building on this campus where the art program is and that includes not just art, also other things such as drama.

Lack: Speaking of drama, did you know Doug Swink?

Biggs: Absolutely, you need to talk to Doug.

Lack: I need to. He’s busy, he’s hard to get a hold of, but I’m trying. Did you know him at Isaac Bear?

Biggs: Oh yes. I knew Doug in high school.

Lack: Oh, he went to high school with you?

Biggs: No, he was faculty in drama as I recall. He certainly has been in New Hanover County for a long time. He shared with the music director, what was his name?

Lack: Frank Allen?

Biggs: No, Frank was a biologist. He’s interesting. I can go in all directions. Frank Allen was the county public elementary school principal. I think an assistant principal.

Lack: How’s he doing now?

Biggs: He’s retired, been retired for quite a while and his health is not the best. He’s a man who came here from Nevada. He talks about Nevada a whole lot. He goes out there a great deal. He’s a golfer and all this kind of thing. Who was music, I can’t remember. I was looking at his picture just the other night. The Order of Isaac Bear is sort of a means of maintaining those relationships.

Lack: Maintaining the memory since the building is no longer around.

Biggs: The building was used for a long time. It was ultimately torn down. It’s now a parking lot for buses directly across from the gym there and not far from the cafeteria which is across the street. The so-called class officers, I was the president of that. I guess that’s the right term.

Actually the guy in charge, he’s one of the leaders, the main leader of the school prior to Randall’s coming.

Lack: Before Randall, there was…Hamilton?

Biggs: No, Hamilton was a high school principal when I was a student there.

Lack: And then often there was Hamilton, then the fellow who was president, the doctor, he was a physician?

Biggs: A member of the school board, Dr. Hoggard, one of the buildings is named for him. He was a very major influence. You see the influences, you see his name and his picture around. But this guy came in from somewhere else. I hope I can remember these people that I can’t remember now, it will come back to me. He wanted to decorate and make the yard better. He wanted the students to see that they had done it. I was sent down to speak to this guy. He was a funny guy. He was a good city manager.

After that, the students planted so that was a big addition. A visual fact of the students’ interest and involvement. It too got taken down. The building was torn down. That’s logical, it wouldn’t have gotten much care there. Okay, I’m rambling, where do you want me to go?

Lack: Well it’s good to hear about you have ties to Wilmington College as both a student and later as a teacher. So after you completed your Bachelor of Science degree, what did you do?

Biggs: This one connection, I’ve sort of gotten lost. I did go to several of the schools as a graduate student. I won’t necessarily get them in the right order here. Texas A&M, I got a Master’s degree there in biological sciences of course. I went to the University of Kansas. There I was going to continue with research in the study of mammals. One of the most outstanding mammalogy, a person who studied mammals, had a big upper floor of a building for storage of specimens and all that.

I’m just saying that because he was there and there was a number of very high level people in this area, but I didn't get to finish there because luckily before the Korean War was in too big a splurge there, that struggle tended to taper down. I didn't have to go to be drafted is the point there as a student. They gave tests back then and you could take a test and if you passed, you didn't go. It wasn’t real fair, but that’s what was done. At least it made some determinations. That’s just how it happened.

It was necessary that I come back to Wilmington so I left Kansas. I didn't go to the service then. I did some additional graduate work elsewhere, but not necessarily from leaving the college. I took some leave time, several opportunities and carried my degree work on forward. As I said, Texas A&M and the University of Kansas. I did get drafted, but the war was over. It wasn’t a bad deal at all.

I ended up in Puerto Rico for 15 months. That was no big deal. There wasn’t a lot of activity there. I was with the medics, not with the field soldiers. So I stayed basically in the facilities that cared for soldiers. They sent me from the military place that I was, they shipped me and another guy over to San Juan, a big fancy city.

They gave me some training on taking x-rays which was kind of something because at that hospital, they had big fancy stuff. I didn't learn much about taking x-rays because they didn't have all the equipment there. It kept me indoors. At any rate, it was all an interesting part of what I did because to get to San Juan, we were sent by train to New York and from New York by troop ship to San Juan harbor.

Lack: Did you know where you were going?

Biggs: We knew we were going to Puerto Rico, yes. That was determined.

Lack: Were you a teacher at this time?

Biggs: No, that comes shortly. I finally got discharged from the Army and went back to school. It was the time of the year that I had to do a range, a situation whereby I could get back into college even though my full time in the Army was ended. I was given some extended time to go to school. I got back to school early. That was at North Carolina State. I got familiar with North Carolina State which was good because later, that’s where I got my Ph.D. degree.

After finishing there that summer at North Carolina State, I wasn’t really ready to start a regular program. I came back to Wilmington and taught high school a year and a half. But jumped out the second year and got back to college. Went to North Carolina State and that’s where I … let me cut this real short…I was able to leave the high school as a teacher. I went to N.C. State summer program and got a job here in the high school. I lasted there one semester and a half. I got someone to take my place.

The principal didn't appreciate it, but I was going back to college to pursue my doctorate at N. C. State in biology. Well I messed up a little there, it’s all true but not in the right sequence. I did eventually get my doctorate degree. I was afraid I wouldn’t have much to say.

Lack: People always say they don’t have much to say, but once you start thinking about it there are some stories.

Biggs: It’s like me talking about Isaac Bear, you see how I got caught up there.

Lack: That’s good though. My boss, Sherman Hayes, he loves this.

Biggs: I can tell the value of the school for the city. They taxed to start the school which is a remarkable thing. Anything that can be done to help the city to understand.

Lack: It was remarkable because was it like county income tax?

Biggs: No, it was just a local tax. It was agreed to by the county commissioners or whoever do that and the people supported it and were positive about it. Not everybody, but the vast majority. It was a good push. The reason I left the school in Brunswick County was that my father died.

Lack: Yes, you mentioned that, when you were young.

Biggs: I was just a 9th grader. My mother and I moved to Wilmington, it was she and I. In all those years I was wandering around in the Army and all this stuff, we were able to get a little house built. I had a member of the board when I was hired, he was a man who ran a clothing store. That brings us to this place.

Something I’m sure you’re familiar with in terms of the institution and where it’s ended up, the land that the campus is on was purchased from Raeford Trask. He’s a rich man and he was on the board. He gave them a good price and at any rate, they bought this great piece of land. You see what an important thing that was. The land was rather primitive looking woodland, no people living in this area.

The Board of Trustees undertook again what they were going to do with it. Of course the purpose of buying the land was to build a college. That began at that point. It went through several stages. This tract of land had three original buildings and a piece of land that was between those three buildings, they were going to have a groundbreaking. They planted trees. Of course our present chancellor has put on some more.

Lack: Well it’s so neat because so many people don’t have any memories, but you were actually here for that. Did you go to the groundbreaking?

Biggs: Actually I did. I don’t know why, I don’t remember why.

Lack: How is that you ended up coming back to the college. You went to North Carolina State and completed your doctorate. How is that you ended up coming back to teach, how did that happen, do you remember?

Biggs: It was the fact of home and the fact that I had gone to school here. You asked about this earlier, having been a student here, it was my first college experience at the junior college level. The place was growing and I saw it as a fairly sure thing. Hamilton as you mentioned was at that time the principal. When I was in school, Hamilton was the principal. He gave me a hard time about leaving. I had family here and my house here. I was a faculty member for about 33 years, somewhere in that vicinity.

Lack: Did you come back after your Ph.D., in the Isaac Bear Building for a while? When you first started teaching at the college level, were you at Isaac Bear? This new campus was built, I think it opened in ’61.

Biggs: We moved from the little building on Market Street to here, that was interesting. I think it was ’61, was the initial year of moving which extended on for a while. People just packed up stuff and hauled it out here. The faculty that wanted to remain moved and other people who came to seek a job like I did. It was gaining a good reputation, of course it eventually became one of the state schools.

There’s a little sign right to the road that joins this street – there was a big hurrah about that. The state people came down. The reason for this, you undoubtedly know, the time had come when the state had selected Asheville, Chapel Hill, those had become part of the college system in the state. So those three were added and there were ceremonies with the governor and high ranking people came.

One thing that they did was to go out to the highway, that sign was there and there were ceremonies there. In a sense that was where the people, the city that helped build this thing, they were important. That’s something that we’ve often…

Lack: I guess it was a dream to have your own campus. That was a long held dream. Is that correct?

Biggs: The southeastern part of the state needed higher education. Public schools are one thing, but higher education was not here. Here’s an article about Wilmington College. When I was teaching, as I was getting sort of late in my tenure here, I thought I might write about the whole department. The chairman made the suggestion. I did make some efforts, but I didn't follow through. These were administrative people, Hoggard, Cruz. Beamon is the guy I was trying to remember a while ago.

Lack: You were trying to remember who was here before Randall.

Biggs: I think that’s right. Marshall was never the head there, but he was a major factor. He was registrar. See what I’ve got here, a list of the faculty. This is early on. This shows some of the sparcity of faculty at Wilmington College for example. It’s talking about members of the faculty. It might stimulate someone to see how many faculty members there were.

These are course areas and again a number of faculty. This is some of the information we’ve talked about. During that period of time, here’s some things here that I talked about. Just little factual things like the music department being on the top level of James Hall. It became an administrative office. Drama, that’s Doug Swink of course. This is James Hall.

Lack: When did you do all this?

Biggs: Years ago. I was going on my recollections which was easier then because I was in the middle of it, it was fresher. You are at the school now?

Lack: Yes, if I have questions, I’ll definitely contact you.

Biggs: These are some things, have you talked to any of the students who were coming here early, some of the former students.

Lack: I’d like to talk more. If you have some names, I’d be glad to talk to them because I’ve only talked to people to happen to have been students like you or David Miller, Carol Ellis.

Biggs: There are people who are good at this and I’ll give you a list.

Lack: That would be wonderful.

Biggs: I know some people who will talk to you, that’s what matters. You may need to use your wand to decipher what it means. This is talking about the nature of students coming to Wilmington College, coming out of New Hanover High School which was right across the street. They live here, they can walk to work. They probably live at home. I imagine the parents like that. No student parking, many walked to class, live at home, some. Most of them lived at home. This picture is some of the kids. That’s me there.

Lack: I haven’t seen this picture, we do have UNCW magazine but I just haven’t seen it. That could be you. You went to the reunion perhaps.

Biggs: Yes. I have a statement. Getting to the thing I was really working on, that’s a list of faculty. This was ’77 just biology. You’re going to be limited because I primarily, the stuff I wrote about was biology.

Lack: You were here until 1994 and retired at that time?

Biggs: Yeah.

Lack: Jack Dermott, do you know him?

Biggs: Oh yeah.

Lack: I called him about this project. He seemed interested, but he didn't want to do it right away.

Biggs: He’s kind of that way. He’s having some health, some physical problems, but he’s a good man. He worked with the state for a long period of time. Worked with the biological aspects of people who were working in various agencies in the state. He was editor of the magazine the state produced about nature. He’s a fantastic photographer. He takes gobs of photographs.

Lack: So is Jim Parnell.

Biggs: They’re both from North Carolina State. Jim is an excellent photographer. I’ve been out a lot with both of them.

Lack: So you probably wrote this up in the mid 70’s. I think this is great that you have this.

Biggs: Well I’m glad I found it. I knew I had done this, but I didn't know where it was. Perhaps there are some names lacking. This guy was one that I met at Kansas. Charles Pflugler, he was a strange guy. He was an avid person in being associated with LSU, football, plus traveler. He was an avid traveler. Look at his name and all that travel, Spain, the Middle East area. He helped me get into Texas A&M. I have never asked, or known precisely how or why and he arranged for me to get a scholarship there.

From Kansas, he went back to Louisiana and I came back here. At the time for a year and a half I was at New Hanover High School. He called me and told me and that’s why I left New Hanover High School because he got me a fellowship there. I stayed there for two years, about 2-1/2. Something I left out, at Texas A&M I got a Master’s degree, maybe I said that. Then he arranged, however how I never asked him, he’s dead now.

I was at Wilmington in school here. I stayed here a while. What worked out was that I applied for and received a science fellowship which was pretty…it was very good. My wife and son who was a youngster went to State. I did that by way of having free time from here. Part of it was a leave of absence.

Lack: They allowed you to keep working on your thesis. You probably had to travel up to Raleigh some.

Biggs: Yes, I stayed up there. In doing the research, I did a lot of it here. Tying all these things together, but you seem to know a whole lot about this.

Lack: Well I’m learning. I’m a newcomer. This is really good certainly for me as I try contacting some of these people. This will go into our manuscript collection. We’ll put this in the manuscript collection with your name and we’ll organize it.

Biggs: Somebody might say, hey, he left people out. That guy wasn’t here then. These are just some things that you might want to re-over, or check with me if you think it’s important.

Lack: It is important because this is the groundwork for the department. Now we’re the Biological Sciences department and early years have a lot to do with that.

Biggs: This is Paul Wright, he’s the guy from New Hanover High School. This guy is a character, I don’t think we need to get into him, Zabrowski. He had to do with microorganisms and so forth. Frank Allen, George Zabrowski, he’s dead. There are faculty members who can give you some memories about him. Sometime he’d go into class and talk about his wife. He was avid against her because she was apparently a different kind of person, disappeared with a bit of money. On a certain day he was angry and would talk about it in class.

He lived out by the sound and ultimately became ill and passed away. You know Plyler. Plyler was an excellent administrative force.

Lack: This is an article about Dan Plyler.

Biggs: This is about him.

Lack: That was his home department and then he became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Leutze…

Biggs: That’s an announcement about that. This is about Wagoner, this tied together because Wagoner preceded. I don’t know if giving this to you would be helpful or more confusing.

Lack: I’d like to have it because I like to write summaries of the interviews.

Biggs: Maybe it will clear up some of the confusion. This is the curriculum, it’s not in good order. When I was thinking of writing this article about the department, I got copies of CV’s. I kept them and was going to have that information.

Lack: Oh, this is something you wrote for the 50’s anniversary.

Biggs: I don’t remember it.

Lack: Did Mary Beth Bianchi contact you about this?

Biggs: Yeah.

Lack: She’s a good person. Well it was the 50 year anniversary seven years ago. I have not seen that.

Biggs: Maybe don’t make this a Walter Biggs thing. If there’s a reason because there’s something about me, but just don’t make a big deal about my writing this. I’m not too sure about its…it talks about some people. This may be something…

Lack: This is wonderful. Oh this is the biology department newsletter.

Biggs: That’s right, there was an alumni newsletter. Here’s an article about me retiring. Going through this, I see there are lots of little articles. Here’s one on Pflugler, there’s some good stuff here. I don’t know who wrote that.

Lack: I really appreciate your bringing this.

Biggs: I was really hanging on a line, I didn't know who you were. My wife mentioned that you were from the library and then it made common sense that that’s where you would do this.

Lack: I can give you my business card. That way you can perhaps remember me the next time. I’ll write you a follow up letter after this to thank you for participating.

Biggs: That Pflugler thing could be interesting because it shows outreach to other places.

Lack: Oh yeah, because we were bringing people in from all over the place. You were from here, but you had traveled and gotten your degree from elsewhere.

Biggs: There wasn’t a place to get a doctorate degree here, but I did get it from the state of North Carolina. We had a biology club and I was involved in that.

Lack: Were you the faculty advisor?

Biggs: No, from the point of view of this editor, we were called upon and sought to get the students involved and we did. I would ask for it. I think that’s what this is, news of alumni, look at all that.

Lack: I mean you were there and have more of an eyewitness account than anybody.

Biggs: This is what we talked about, it talks about the faculty thing again. This is giving time meaning, the bond issue, groundbreaking, became a four year college with a ceremony in front of the main building and so on. All the things I talked about are here. Maybe I’ve said enough that you can get more meaning… Just don’t end up with these muddled papers and not know what in the world they’re talking about.

Lack: Believe me, in archives people give us things sometimes that are much more disorderly than this. You get that a lot.

Biggs: These are the dates of the buildings, but you’ve got that in catalogues… Friday Hall, the Marine Science building and more.

Lack: Do you have an interest in history in general?

Biggs: As a matter of fact, yes. I’ve got a shelf full of Civil War books for example. When I was at Wilmington College, I proposed, I was thinking then I’d go into history, but biology was the right thing. These are dates and events.

Lack: There has not been much published. The only history that was published was this one book and I think someday somebody is going to want to update and do a more comprehensive history.

Biggs: Unfortunately that book was criticized a great deal.

Lack: For leaving out things?

Biggs: I think I hesitate to say why because I really don’t know why. It’s brief, but he does give you facts. For example, he says something here about my being the first biology person to research away from the campus. He’s referring to the fact that I did research at North Carolina State. He looked at details.

Lack: Well he’s a mathematician. He’s precise.

Biggs: Maybe this is helpful. I’m sure you have this elsewhere.

Lack: Not in this format though, that’s what makes it special. If somebody ever wants to write a history, they’re not going to look at just one thing. They might look at your stuff, they’ll look at Marshall Cruz’ stuff, they’ll look at all of our records. It would take a lot of work so this can only help.

Biggs: I thought so, that’s what I hope. This is the 50th anniversary thing again. I knew it might be of some value to you. Here’s Mr. Bolen. He doesn’t have tenure, but he was a very effective, important administrator in that particular area. This is a magazine article. It was one of these school newsletters. This is the article, Webster and me. But I thought this might be of some interest.

Lack: Oh, the Order of Isaac Bear, this might go with the Isaac Bear stuff.

Biggs: Let me caution you a little bit about this. We did have a session this last year or so. I wasn’t a faculty member, but I was still a member of the Order of Isaac Bear. This is an older version. I imagine Miller talked about this.

Lack: No, not really. Archivists really like constitutions even if they change because it’s good to show how a club has changed.

Biggs: I wanted you to know that it had been edited and Miller was the president then. You need to know all of them aren’t the same. Ask Miller to give you a copy of the one the group revised. Oh my, here’s another one of those, here’s Dr. McCrary.

Lack: Oh yes, I’ve been wanting to interview her. How is she doing, do you know her?

Biggs: I really don’t know, probably not well. She’s a fine lady. I was president and saw that she got in the Order. At the same time we brought in the guy I was talking to you about earlier. He became a member the same time Ann did. He’s over there in Leutze’s area.

Lack: Was it Tyrell?

Biggs: Yes, that’s who I’m talking about.

Lack: He’s still around. I don’t want to interview him, I want to, but I’m going to wait until he has a little more time.

Biggs: I went and talked to him. The article I wrote dealt with what he’s doing, something about his other things away from here. He lives in western North Carolina in a little town and one of our faculty members whose name you may have heard in that she was the former member of Dean of Women.

Lack: Helena Cheek?

Biggs: Yes, not Cheek, the one before her. Anyway she was a lady who was very proud, extremely helpful. She lived close by Tyrell. Apparently she raised pecans and he kind of helped himself. He likes to talk about funny things. He gave us a story…

Lack: He came and spoke to the group?

Biggs: Oh yes, he made a speech and a couple of jokes. It was good. No telling what you might find in here. Cahill leaves post. Dr. Parnell to retire, they gave him a whole page. He was a widespread person, not just the school.

Lack: It’s good to have this in the alumni newsletter because a lot of the alumni had you or Jim Parnell as a teacher and they want to know, now what’s changing at the school. I’m so old, all of my professors are retiring.

Biggs: We try to bring some of them in to give us insight and so forth, their opinions and ideas. The Biology Club update, showing how active they are. We try to collect the articles written by faculty members so if you have some of those that you would otherwise throw away, feel free to contact me about that. I think I’ve pretty well gone through what I have.

Lack: There are so many new faculty, we don’t have any articles by them. I know they’ve written some, but I just haven’t collected all of them because they’re so new and there are so many.

Biggs: That may be something that a department chairman could encourage members to do.

Lack: We have this magazine, but it’s good to have additional copies. So are you going to keep those for now? You’re thinking I don’t really want it, but I do. If you feel comfortable letting us have it, that’s fine.

Biggs: I’m not using it. As a matter of fact, I didn't know where it was until a couple of nights ago. I haven’t used it. You just use it. If I were to ever get wound up to write about the department, but I don’t think I am because I’m too far away. There are too many new people. Sizemore of course, his tenure was ending. SO I think that’s why he was pushing…

Lack: I’ll have to keep up with who the chair is now of Biological Sciences.

Biggs: I’ve only seen him one time, at ___________ funeral.

Lack: We lost Dr. Lindquist a couple of years ago.

Biggs: We lost one to the biology department. He came ahead and got sick and died, I’m trying to think of his name. I don’t know if he’s on this list or not.

Lack: That doesn’t have many people who passed away, maybe a few on the back. Did you know William Randall and Wagoner?

Biggs: Oh definitely, Wagoner was public school. Both of them are very nice people. Wagoner is the kind of guy that had a room over…his office is over in the same building where Leutze is, but it’s a different room. At a certain time, it was the right time whatever that meant, he would be in there and drink coffee.

Randall is a very talkative person and one would like to communicate with his people. Another one, Paul Reynolds, likewise. So there was communication there. He was a very friendly person. All three of these mentioned were open. If you do publish a death list, you might want to get the guy’s name, it’ll come to me.

Lack: Thank you very much.

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