COVINGTON, Ga. — Former Newton County Emergency Management Agency Director Steve Biggers died Saturday, Jan. 2.
Biggers was recently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to family. After more than four weeks of battling the novel virus and spending time on a ventilator, Biggers died at the age of 77.
Biggers, a lifelong resident of Covington, was an accomplished man who loved nothing more than to serve others.
“He never said no,” Doug Biggers said of his father. “Any time someone would call and ask him to do something, the first thing he’d say was, ‘Well, sure.’
“He set an example for me his entire life, which was super high. They don’t make too many like that anymore,” Doug continued. “He always had a big smile on his face — it was an infectious smile and an infectious attitude … he was one of a kind.”
Doug said the family was fortunately able to be with his father at the time of his passing, unlike many others during the pandemic.
After graduating from Newton County High School, Mr. Biggers served in the U.S. Navy for five years before returning to Newton County to begin a 21 year career with the Covington Fire Department. He achieved the rank of deputy chief before retiring from the department.
Shortly before his retirement from the city, Mr. Biggers was hired to work as Newton County’s fire coordinator while also serving as deputy chief at the city’s fire department. From 1998-1999, Mr. Biggers served as president of the Georgia Fire Chief’s Association.
The association wrote the following statement on Facebook on Jan. 3 after Mr. Biggers’ death:
“Sadly, we have learned that Steve Biggers passed away after an extensive battle with COVID. Most of you in the fire service knew him as "Newt" Biggers, retired fire chief of Newton County Fire and Emergency Services. Chief Biggers was a past president of the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs.”
Years later, Mr. Biggers became the county’s EMA director and played a vital role in the creation of the Covington-Newton County 911 Center. He also served on the county’s dive team and played a hand in the start of several area volunteer fire departments. Mr. Biggers retired from the county in 2000.
In the late 1990s, Mr. Biggers received the Governor’s Public Safety Award from then-Gov. Zell Miller.
Outside of his career as a first responder, Mr. Biggers loved giving back to his community any way he could.
From 1970 to 2020, Mr. Biggers remained involved in Newton County Special Olympics.
In 1996, when the Summer Olympic Games were held in Atlanta, Biggers was one of four Covington residents to participate in the Olympic Torch Relay. He carried the torch onto the Covington Town Square shortly before the relay ended with Muhammed Ali lighting the Olympic Cauldron in Atlanta.
Since the games ended, Mr. Biggers used that same torch every year at the Special Olympics in Newton County — a tradition his son hopes to continue in years to come.
“It’s very special to me and our family,” Doug Biggers said.
As a coach, Mr. Biggers saw four of his athletes excel at the local level and compete in the World Games.
“Our hearts are broken!” the Newton County Schools Special Olympics wrote on Facebook on Jan. 3 after Biggers' death. “We will forever be thankful for this special man’s dedication to our athletes. Heaven gained a good one today. Our heart felt condolences go out to his wonderful family. Mr. Biggers has been dedicating his time to Special Olympics Newton County since the 1970s. In recent years we all know him as the host of the torch run but he was more than that. In the past he was a certified coach in four sports and actually drove the bus. He also was our Grand Marshall in 2014. He loved working with our athletes. Mr. Biggers has been fighting for four weeks to beat this but it is now time for him to rest. Thank you for ‘being brave in the attempt!!’”
Mr. Biggers was also a talented musician who enjoyed all types of music. He played in several bands including the Biggers Family Band, the Mansfield Pickers, Rambling Creek, Benny Riders Gum Creek Boys and Jubilee.
He helped start what Doug Biggers described as a “scaled down version of the Grand Ole Opry” in the Newborn Opry. Country, gospel and bluegrass musicians would put on shows inside the former Newborn Schoolhouse, located on Georgia Highway 142 in Newborn, every first and third Saturday of the month.
In November 2012, Mr. Biggers was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame.
In recent years, Mr. Biggers used his musical talents to minister to seniors at assisted living and nursing homes across Newton County.
Mr. Biggers was an active member and deacon at Mansfield Baptist Church. He was also a Mason and member of Mansfield Masonic Lodge.
“He did it all,” Doug Biggers said.
Though many will remember Mr. Biggers for his servant’s heart and infectious personality, Doug Biggers said the thing he would miss most about his father was simply being there for him.
“Knowing you have someone always in your corner … trusted you without a doubt,” Doug Biggers said. “That’s what I’ll probably miss most about him … that unconditional love.”
Mr. Biggers’ death was felt across the community as many have expressed their condolences to the Biggers family. A moment of silence was held at the beginning of the Covington City Council’s meeting Monday, Jan. 4, to honor Mr. Biggers’ life.
Mr. Biggers is survived by his wife, Carol Ann Biggers; his children Doug and Terri Biggers, and Ann and Marshall McCart; his grandchildren Leeanne and Rusty Blankenship, Dalton Biggers, Kylie and Rhett Johnson, and Laney McCart; his brother-in-law Jerry Prosser; his brother Chuck and Wendy Biggers; his nieces and nephews Beth and Todd Nolan, Susie Prosser Gates, Chip and Alexis Prosser, and Becky and Darrell Smallwood; stepmother Betty Ann Smith; and a host of other family and close friends, according to an obituary from J.C. Harwell and Son Funeral Home.
A funeral service for Mr. Biggers will be held Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 2 p.m. at Mansfield Baptist Church and was live streamed via the church’s Facebook page. Interment followed at Carmel Church Cemetery. Visitation is slated for Tuesday, Jan. 5, from 4-7 p.m. at J.C. Harwell and Son Funeral Home.