KINSTON, N.C (WNCT) – The city of Kinston will be celebrating the 90th birthday of Booker T. Wiggins Sr. as well as celebrating the contributions he has made to the Kinston community.

On June 4, there will be a car parade, open to the community at 1 pm. On June 5 at St. Paul United Holy Church on Tower Hill Road, immediately following the 11 am service, there will be a celebration dinner. Community members are invited to join the car parade which will be led by the Kinston Fire and Police Departments.

Rev. Booker T. Wiggins is a lifelong resident of the state of North Carolina. He was born in Halifax County to Isaac Wiggins, a World War I Veteran, and Julia Sheppard Wiggins, a homemaker. As a young boy, Rev. Booker T. Wiggins, Sr. remembers the day his family hurriedly moved from Halifax County to Kinston, NC. to escape a lynch mob being organized to pursue his father. Like many Black American soldiers from the segregated South returning home after fighting for the freedoms of others, he could no longer back down from the mistreatment received at home.

As a sharecropper, when insisting on being paid as promised became a death sentence for him, he hurriedly relocated his family to Kinston, NC overnight where his sister welcomed the family. That is how Booker T. Wiggins, Sr. became a part of this community that has been his home for over 8 decades. From playing little league baseball with the Lincoln City youth baseball teams to singing in the Adkin High School Glee Club to serving as PTA President at Southeast Elementary School when his children attended the school to pastoring a church, he has been involved in and contributed to the life of the Kinston community.

Many hearts have been lifted as he shared his gift of song as a regional performer and recording artist forming his first group at the age of 14. He used his musical gifts for many years as a singer and guitarist to bring joy and inspiration including as a member of The Wiggins Gospelaires, a musical ensemble formed with his sisters; in the church choirs at Faith Tabernacle UHC, where he served as #2 Choir president; and at St. Paul UHC, even while serving as pastor.

Due to his desire to help his aging father support the family, he dropped out of school to work. A model and advocate for lifelong learning, he, as a husband and father of six children, returned to school at Lenoir Community College and became a GED graduate in 1973. From there, he attended Bible College and became a licensed minister in the United Holy Church of America (UHC). He was the pastor of St. Paul United Holy Church in Kinston, NC for 33 years and a District Elder in the Southern District of the United Holy Church of America. He supported his family for many years, even as he supported the supply chain of America, as a truck driver for several wholesale companies including C.W. Howard and Piggly-Wiggly, Inc.  He retired from the N.C. Department of Transportation in 1994 and joined his wife in her home day business, Mrs. Mary’s Love and Care, becoming “Granddaddy” to each child who entered.

His wisdom, kindness and infectious sense of humor have lit the paths of those he encountered and often left them with a smile.  He has been married to Minister Mary Chapman Wiggins for over 60 years. He is the proud father of six children: Benjamin Franklin Wiggins, Della Wiggins Lawson (W. Anthony), Tessie Wiggins Yost (Robert), Darlene Wiggins Dockery, Booker T. Wiggins, Jr. (DeeMost) and Christopher Jay Wiggins, Sr. (Priscilla). He is also the beloved grandfather of 13, and great-grandfather of 12.

Parade participation is open to all who have been encouraged, cheered or inspired by Rev. Booker T. Wiggins’ wisdom, music or smile. Parade participants are asked to arrive at 12:45 pm on Darby Avenue to begin lining up near Rose’s. All events are open to the community.