2002 – Veron, Texas
Helen Biggs Willingham was born into a pioneer ranching family, the daughter of well-known Texas sculptor Electra Waggoner and John Biggs. She grew up on the Waggoner Ranch near Vernon, Texas and then left to attend Hockaday School in Dallas. She earned her B.A. degree in English from Hollins College and then moved to Houston to teach school. In 1969, she married Gene Willingham and they had two children, Jennifer and John. Upon the death of her father in 1975, Helen and Gene moved back to the ranch where they presently live. Gene is co-director of the W. T. Waggoner Estate, the largest ranch in Texas under one fence. Helen and Gene have taken an active role in many civic organizations and have been very involved in community service since moving back to the ranch. She is presently Chairman of the Board of The Boys and Girls Club of Vernon, President of the E. Paul and Helen Buck Waggoner Foundation and Chairman of the Board of the endowment committee of the First United Methodist Church of Vernon. She was President of the Red River Valley Museum during its initial building campaign and was largely responsible for getting it completed. Helen has been drive chairperson of the Community Concert Association, past president of the Carnegie City-County Library and a past director of the Chamber of Commerce. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the Hockaday School and on the Board of Visitors. She is a past director of the Fort Worth National Bank. Helen was nominated Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce and Outstanding Citizen by the Business and Professional Women’s Association. Helen and Gene recently were honored by the Greenbelt District Boy Scouts of America as “Special Citizens”. Helen says it is a great pleasure to give back to the community that has been such a vital part of their family’s heritage. In addition to two wonderful children, Helen and Gene have two very special grandsons, Philip and David.