Good-bye dresses; hello, gardening clothes: Tax Collector Wiggins to retire

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In a few months Joy Wiggins will trade her dresses and heels for gardening clothes as she retires from a 12-year career as Escambia County tax collector.
“I have loved my job, but I am looking forward to putting on some old clothes and digging in my garden,” she said. “I also want to spend more time with my grandchildren.”
Wiggins worked in the courthouse before being elected to the post.
In 1994 she went to work in the probate office as a clerk. At that time, a person had to go to the tax assessor’s office to see how much his taxes were, go next door to pay the taxes at the tax collector’s office and then go to the probate office to buy the tag. With the changes made, all three of these transactions now take place in the tax collector’s office. This took some of the work load off of the probate office and the tax assessor’s office but it also placed much more work on the tax collector’s office. In 1996, she moved over to the tax collector’s office as a deputy tax collector.
“Bob Bonner was the tax collector at the time, and I got my on the job training from him,” Wiggins said. “When he retired, I ran for the office in 2002.
“I have never regretted doing it. I have met a lot of good people,” she said. “Most of them are good and easy to deal with. It doesn’t seem as if it has been as long as it has.”
Wiggins had a hard life growing up, but she doesn’t complain. She credits her mother and her grandmother for instilling their values in her.
“My mother was badly handicapped,” she said. “She couldn’t walk, and she had to have several operations to even be able to stand.
“My father was in and out of my life, so we lived with my grandmother a lot,” she said. “Both of them taught me to always work hard and not to depend on anyone else.
People were always good to us and somehow we made it,” she said.
Wiggins attended school in the county system and graduated from W.S. Neal in 1967. She went to work at Judy Bond. She married Roy Wiggins in 1969 and as he was in the military, they were soon on their way to Germany.
“We thought he was going to Vietnam, but by that time, our daughter was born and he didn’t have to go to Vietnam,” she said. “After about a year we came back home. We moved to the Rock Creek area of Escambia County and we still live there.”
They have three children, Andrea Lucas, Philip Wiggins and Bentley Wiggins. They also have eight grandchildren. They, too, live at Rock Creek.
Wiggins is looking forward to retirement, she said, but that doesn’t mean that she won’t be working hard. She said there will be plenty for her to do at home.
“I’m going home and take up with all the things I need to do,” she said. “I like to mow the grass and garden. Maybe we will travel a bit. I have a half sister living in California that I have never met. Maybe we’ll go out that way. I know I’ll stay busy because that is the way I was raised.”

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