Community leader, beloved businessman Devon Wiggins dead at 73
By By John Dilmore Jr. Special to the advance
Longtime community leader and businessman Judge Devon Wiggins died this week at the age of 73, leaving behind a legacy of leadership and tireless advocacy on behalf of Brewton and Escambia County.
Since Wiggins' death in a Mobile hospital on Tuesday, he has been remembered throughout the communities he lived in and served for a broad range of qualities reflective of the life he led and the work he did.
Wiggins, who owned and operated the Brewton Western Auto for many years, was remembered as a successful businessman, a family man and a respected politician.
Wiggins served as chairman of the Escambia County Commission and Judge of Probate for a number of years, and always had the best interests of the people he served in mind, according to those who knew him.
"His single-minded focus was always toward the betterment of Escambia County and its citizens," said Bill Wasden of Brewton, who knew Wiggins for some 37 years. "We're all better for having known Devon Wiggins, and Escambia County is a better place because of his many good works."
Patty Mitchell of Brewton was a longtime friend, getting to know Wiggins through church, as well as through the Brewton Lions Club, in which he was an active member who often took a leadership role in the organization's activities.
"He could tell a joke or a story so well, and was always happy and positive," Mitchell said. "He was probably the most positive individual I have ever known. And he never met a stranger – he was a good Christian person."
Of his life in the political arena, Mitchell said of Wiggins, a lifelong Democrat, "He was loved and respected by everyone – even the Republicans."
Wiggins was elected to the Escambia County Commission in 1976.
Under Wiggins' leadership as chair of the county commission, Escambia County went from being more than $400,000 in debt to being debt-free.
Other accomplishments the commission logged under Wiggins' leadership included establishment of the oil severance tax, setting up satellite offices in Atmore, and placing the veteran' memorial in front of the courthouse.
Wiggins served as chair of the commission for 12 years before running for and being elected Judge of Probate. He held that position until 2000, when left because of a state law setting the maximum age of judges at 70.
He said at the time, "I won't say there are no politics in my future…I never say there is a zero chance of anything."
Wiggins is remembered for more than just service to the community. He was also known as a skilled vocalist who got his start as a child, when his mother,