Gilbert Warren Biggs, 86, a retired economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, died of congestive heart failure Sept. 12 at his home in North Springfield.
Dr. Biggs was born in Creswell, N.C. His mother died at his birth, and his father, who had moved to Virginia Beach to look for work, died when Dr. Biggs was in high school. The superintendent of his high school, recognizing his potential, helped him find a foster family and made sure that he stayed in school. Dr. Biggs graduated from Oceana High School in Virginia Beach in 1938, began working part time and enrolled at Virginia Tech, although his education was interrupted by World War II.
He enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1942 and served as a navigator on B-24 bombers on missions over Europe, Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East. His numerous citations included the Distinguished Flying Cross. Released from active duty with the rank of first lieutenant in 1945, he taught navigation as a captain in the Air Force Reserve from 1956 to 1958.
He received a bachelor's degree in poultry husbandry from Virginia Tech in 1946 and a master's degree in agricultural economics, also from Virginia Tech, in 1948. He received a doctorate in economics from Cornell University in 1953.
He taught economics at Clemson University from 1948 to 1958, when he joined the USDA as an agricultural economist. His duties included working with farmers cooperatives, primarily those of potato farmers in Maine and Idaho.
He also wrote USDA publications for agricultural extension offices across the country. He retired in 1991.
In retirement, Dr. Biggs enjoyed reading, investing and working in his yard.
A longtime member of First Presbyterian Church in Annandale, he served as a deacon and a member of the finance committee. He also was a member of the North Springfield Civic Association.
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Rosalie M. Biggs of North Springfield; two daughters, Mary W. Biggs of Blacksburg, Va., and Carol B. Taylor of Littleton, Colo.; and two granddaughters.