Oral History

Collene Rogers - On her father's career in the trades

Interviewed by Kathryn Wall on March 11, 2023

“At his (Walter Riggsbee) funeral, Reverend Manley said, “How many people had to call him at 1 o’clock in the morning, 2 o’clock in the morning, and he came?” I think every hand in the church went up.”

- Collene Rigsbee

This interview is part of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center’s Builders Series. Collene Rogers shared key memories from her family photo album and detailed her family’s contribution to plumbing, electricity, carpentry, woodwork, stonework, and bricklaying. Her father, Walter Rigsbee, is known for his career as a plumber in rural areas, Chatham County, and Orange County. His community remembers him as reliable, and she reminisced on her brother’s friends or her helping her father do plumbing. She highlighted her brother’s (Tommy Rigsbee) dedication to masonry and Bobby Rigsbee’s military service. Rogers reflected on her time in New York as a banker in a medical group detail she created and how her rewarding experience prepared her for entrepreneurship. After she returned to Chapel Hill, she explained the impact of these trades and life skills not being passed down to generations of African-Americans. The interview ends with her sharing her love of sewing.

Collene Rogers - On her father's career in the trades

Tags: , , , , ,

Oral history interview of Rogers, Collene conducted by Wall, Kathryn on March 11, 2023 at Marian Cheek Jackson Center, Chapel Hill, NC.

Citation: Marian Cheek Jackson Center, “Collene Rogers - On her father's career in the trades,” From the Rock Wall, accessed June 13, 2024, https://fromtherockwall.org/oral-histories/collene-rogers-3.

"We’re writing our own history, thank you!"

Ms. Esphur Foster

Want to add in?  Have a different view?  What do you think? Want to upload your own photos or documents?

History is not the past.  It’s the sense we make of the past now. Click below to RESPOND—and be part of making history today.