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Murphy Funeral Homes

4510 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA

OBITUARY

Frontis Burbank Wiggins Jr.

April 7, 1929October 29, 2019

Frontis Burbank (Wig) Wiggins, Jr., retired Foreign Service Officer and internationally recognized Bing Crosby expert, died on October 29, 2019, at his home in Arlington, Virginia at the age of 90.

He was born in Thomasville, Georgia, on April 7, 1929 to Frontis Burbank and Emma Louise (King) Wiggins and grew up in Albany, Georgia, where his father owned a small business. After earning an Industrial Engineering degree from Georgia Tech (1950), he attended the University of Birmingham, England, on a Rotary Club scholarship, leaving in 1951 with a Graduate Commerce (MBA) degree plus lifelong friendships with fellow students and a permanent disgust for Brussels sprouts. While working for Standard Oil in Baton Rouge in 1952, he was called to naval service. After the Korean War he entered the University of California at Berkeley on the GI Bill, earning a 1956 Master of Political Science for his thesis on the election dispute that in 1946 briefly left Georgia with 3 simultaneous governors.

He entered the Foreign Service in 1956 and served his country at home and abroad for nearly 35 years. His first posts were Kenya and Guatemala, followed by Indonesia, where in 1960 he married an Embassy colleague, Laura Ponnone of Farmington, Connecticut, and where their daughter Joanne was born. His next post, Italy, was the birthplace of his son, Frontis Burbank III. His next overseas appointment was Deputy Chief of Mission (and frequent Chargé d’Affaires) for Malta. After serving on, then heading, the Board of Examiners (which selects new Foreign Service officers), his final post was U.S. Consul for Brisbane, Australia. He retired in 1991.

He loved music of all kinds, from Hot Jazz and the Weavers to opera and Broadway, but his favorite by far was Bing Crosby. He was a serious collector, serving for decades as the American Representative for the International Club Crosby. He developed enduring friendships with Bing enthusiasts all over the world and contributed to the preservation of Crosby’s musical legacy. His encouragement sustained John McNicholas’ mission to issue all Bing’s recordings via the Chronological Bing Crosby, AKA the Jonzo Series. In 2015, he and co-author Jim Reilly published “The Definitive Bing Crosby Discography: From 78s to CDs.” He was invited by MCA records to edit a series of re-issues of Bing’ recordings, and he selected the music for over a dozen CDs featuring Bing’s wide range, including 21 gold records, Hawaiian, Irish, and Western songs, and of course Christmas music, the genre Bing pioneered. He was also closely involved with Hofstra University’s 2002 “Bing! Crosby and American Culture” conference.

He lost his wife Laura in 2007 after 47 years of devoted partnership. He is survived by his brother, James Marvin (Adele Cooke), of Glen Eden Beach, Oregon, his daughter, Joanne (Shelley Platt), of Richmond, and his son, Frontis Burbank III, and grandson, Frontis Burbank (Primo) IV, of Fairfax.

Services

  • Gathering Saturday, November 16, 2019
  • Memorial Service Saturday, November 16, 2019
  • Graveside Service Saturday, November 16, 2019

Memories

Frontis Burbank Wiggins Jr.

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Ugo Mifsud Bonnici

November 5, 2019

Dear Godson, dear Frontis Jr,

Gemma and I send our heartfelt condolences on the demise of your dear father. We had the pleasure to know him and your mother during the period they were in Malta, and have retained some very nice memories of their friendship. Their love and respect for our islands, for good governance and honesty in public service were immensely genuine and inspiring.
We pray for the repose of his soul and for your and Joanne's consolation in the acceptance of the will of our Lord, as soon as we received the sad news.
We promise to enter the name of Frontis Wiggins Senior in the list of the departed good friends for the repose of whose soul we will always continue to beseech the Good Lord.

Ugo Mifsud Bonnici
President Emeritus
Malta

David Lobosco

October 31, 2019

Wig (Frontis) was a great friend whom I met through our involvement in Bing Crosby's fan club. He was like a mentor to me in my early days of collecting. He will be sorely missed. Wig was a great Bing Crosby fan, but he was an even great man.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY