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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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For years of dedicated volunteer work on behalf of many Dubuque organizations, Mary Biggins received the 1983 First Citizen Award. Photo courtesy: Mary Biggins

BIGGINS, Mary. (Zwingle, IA, Feb. 29, 1904--Dubuque, Oct. 1, 1995). Biggins, one of Dubuque's most enthusiastic participants in volunteer organizations, received the FIRST CITIZEN AWARD from the TELEGRAPH HERALD in 1983 after receiving 353 nominations. (1)

Biggins was a charter member of Wa-Tan-Ye in Dubuque and chairperson of its concession, known as "Mary's Booth," at the county fair for twenty-five years. She volunteered for Dubuquefest and Riverfest, the Moose, Eagles and the Retired Eagles Active Citizens, Memorial Day Parade, Cathooic Daughters of America, RSVP, and RISE. She was a member of the Women of the Moose for over 44 years during which she held most of its offices. Biggins devoted over twenty-five years of service to the American Cancer Society and ten years with the local chapter of the blood bank. She belonged to the Fraternal Order of Eagles Ladies Auxiliary and was one of its past presidents. She earned her 20-year service pin from the American Cancer Society the same week as her five-year pin from the Red Cross. She also volunteered for the Kidney Foundation, American Lung Association, March of Dimes and the Easter Seals. Some of her acts of volunteering were private like visiting a senior citizen her age but less mobile. (2)

In the early 1920, Biggins taught school in Zwingle driving a horse and buggy to school. (3) Biggins began work at J. C. PENNEY COMPANY in 1927. Even then she helped out. When parents bought only one set of school clothes because it was all they could afford, Biggins threw in another pair and paid for them herself. When she retired in 1969, she took three new jobs and was still working at John C. Pollock's florist shop in 1983. (4)

Loving to travel, she visited South America, California and Arizona. As a BASEBALL fan, she organized trips for the Packer Pals, and two busloads annually to Chicago--one to see the White Sox and the other to see the Cubs. (5)



1. Fryxell, David,"TH First Citizen's Name Matches Her Heart: Mary Biggins Simply Has a Big 'Un," Telegraph Herald, December 29, 1983, p. 17

2. Ibid.

3. "Active Dubuque Volunteer Mary Biggins Dies at 91," Telegraph Herald, October 2, 1995, p. 3

4. Fryxell

5. Ibid.

"175 Years" Vol. II Telegraph Herald, p. 103