Basil Rigney was laid to rest today. He was truly a one-of-a-kind educator. In Mr. Rigney’s band class, there was no coddling, and praise was given only if truly deserved. He had a keen sense of each band member’s strengths and potential, and he was not one to give up easily!
Many stories have been told over the past few days about Mr. Rigney’s somewhat frightening means of getting our attention. Let me just say that he demanded respect, and he made a lot of us better people by making sure we worked up to our full potential.
There are so many memories….Football games, concerts, fundraisers, competitions and some pretty tense practice sessions, just to name a few.
Mr. Rigney had a passion for music that was displayed by his fervent attempt to get a bunch of high school kids to hear music the way he did. He had no tolerance for less than perfect, and I still have a drawer full of “superior” All-State ribbons to prove it.
He forever changed my life. He made me really try to be the best I could be, not because I was afraid, but because I knew that my success really mattered to him. I learned more in his band about life than any other class or job I’ve ever had.
You see, Mr. Rigney knew there were winners and losers, and he wanted us to be winners. We weren’t “patted on the head” for just filling a chair or for a satisfactory performance. He taught his students that in band, like in life, they must really reach out and try harder for the prize.
I am grateful that Mr. Rigney was in my life. I will forever remember the sounds of his baton hitting the top of a music stand as he led us in lessons of music and life.
Kim Simons Cook
NCHS Class of 1980