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Service to remember woman's life

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BY JOHN H. WALKER
Staff Writer

Friday, August 23, 2019

Sandra Hedgepeth Pittman Biggs’ life was intertwined with that of Rocky Mount.

Her grandfather was an early chief of police of the city, her father ran Rocky Mount Mills and she was married to Judge Maurice Biggs.

She died on May 13 following a brief illness.

“She felt grounded and connected here,” recalled her brother, David.

At 11 a.m. Saturday at Rocky Mount Memorial Park, family and friends will gather to remember her life at a graveside memorial service. Anyone who knew Sandra is invited to attended.

“My mother was strong-minded and strong-willed,” son Allen said, adding, “but she hated confrontation.”

Sandra Hedgepeth met Melvyn Earl Pittman in 1960 and got married. In 1962, she gave birth to twin sons Melvyn Allen and Kent Earl and moved to Alabama in 1963. The family moved back to Rocky Mount in 1967.

“My parents weren’t expecting twins,” Melin Allen, who goes by Allen, recalled.

Back in Rocky Mount, Sandra began to teach music, and in 1972, following the death of her husband the previous year, she entered classes at N.C. Wesleyan College, earning a bachelor’s degree in education.

Allen recalled that his mother taught third grade at Benvenue and “was very active” in the Jaycettes, the women’s affiliate organization of the Jaycees, as well as the Junior Women’s Guild.

But Sandra had her love for music and played organ for St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. When the choir director left town when her husband took another job, Sandra continued playing the organ and also assumed responsibilities of choir director.

“Over the years, she played for weddings all over town and she also played at a number of churches, as well as playing the organ at the Christian Science Reading Room,” Allen said.

She returned to school one more time and earned a master’s degree in psychology from N.C. State University, becoming the school psychologist for Nash County. Allen recalled that his mother was very involved in activities at St. Andrew’s, including the eucharistic lay ministry program.

Despite all of her activities, Sandra always seemed to find time to do more as she strived to help more people.

“She got involved in hospice and was the first director of the hospice program in Nash County,” Allen said. “She also got involved in the Guardian ad Litem program and was its first director in the 7th Judicial District.”

A self-published author, she wrote two books — “Tongue in Cheek” and “Lord, Let Me Prove That Winning the Lottery Won’t Change Me” — as well as a column for the Telegram that also was called “Tongue in Cheek.”

“She wrote satire and was pretty good at it,” Allen said. “As a self-published author, she would go around the state and have book signings. She had a couple where she donated the proceeds to the church.”

Allen recalled that following the Rocky Mount flooding of April 2017, “Mother got the crud. Some days were good and some were not so good.”

He said she fell down a flight of stairs the Saturday before Easter 2018.

“She broke a leg, cracked some ribs and had a collapsed lung, but she managed to pull herself down the rest of the stairs, get the door unlocked and pulled the phone to her,” he said. “She called me and EMS and waited on us to get there. She was one tough lady.”

An 11-hour stay at Nash General Hospital resulted in a trip to the ICU at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, where her leg was repaired on Easter Sunday.

“About a week later, they moved her to a regular room and about a week after that, she was moved to the Fountains (at the Albemarle) in Tarboro,” Allen said.

“She developed an infection,” he said, as his voice trailed off.

Sandra Hedgepeth Pittman Biggs was born to Clayton and Georgina Hedgepeth on Oct. 28, 1941. She is survived by a son, Melvyn Allen Pittman of Rocky Mount; a daughter, Gina Blackwell (Tim) of Yuma, Ariz.; a brother, David Hedgepeth (Karen) of Rock Hill, S.C.; a stepson, James (Jaye) Biggs of Rocky Mount; and a stepdaughter, Alison Biggs (Michael Larkin) of Milton, Mass.

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