Deceased November 15, 2018
Rody P. Biggert died of leukemia on Nov. 15, 2018, in Hinsdale, Ill., where he resided most of his adult life. He is survived by Judith, his wife of 55 years, four children and nine grandchildren.
As he recalled in our 50th Reunion class book, two characteristics shaped Rody’s time at Amherst and for the rest of his life: perseverance and fun. He demonstrated that perseverance at Amherst by starting out intending to complete the five-year Amherst and MIT engineering program, getting over his head with science and math courses sophomore year with less-than-stellar academic results, switching his major to economics and, despite this inauspicious start, ending up graduating one-tenth of a grade point average short of cum laude. That perseverance served him well in his professional life as a litigator.
As for fun, for Rody it was an “affirmative life objective.” He was the obvious choice of his Chi Psi fraternity brothers for social chairman junior year. In that post, Rody conceived and ran off the first spring Chi Psi “French Party,” starting an annual tradition that continued for at least the rest of our time at Amherst. He earned freshman numerals in soccer, sang in the freshman glee club, played intramural tennis and squash and joined the sailing club. Mike Bliss ’58 reports that he, Clay Hart ’58 and Rody toured Europe in a VW beetle between junior and senior years and had a hilarious time.
After graduation, Rody served in the army reserves. He was stationed at Fort Dix, N.J., for basic infantry training and Fort Sill, Okla., for artillery training. After his service, he entered a management training program at U.S. Steel. Deciding after a year that he wanted to do something more challenging, Rody enrolled in Northwestern University Law School, graduating in 1963. There he met Judith Borg (Stanford ’57).
Freud wrote that love and work, liebe und arbeit, are the two primary tasks of adulthood. Rody dealt with both during one busy weekend in September 1963. With regard to liebe, on Saturday, Sept. 21, Rory married Judy, a union that would last 55 years. Judy went on to have a distinguished political career, serving as a member of the Illinois General Assembly (1993 – 1998) and in the U.S. Congress as the representative for the 13th Illinois District (1999 – 2012). She joined three other distinguished wives of classmates to speak to us at one of our 50th Reunion programs.
As for arbeit, on Monday Sept. 23, 1963, two days after Rody and Judy’s wedding, Rody joined the Chicago-based law firm of Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather and Geraldson which, as Rody noted in the 50th Reunion Classbook, “was and is still known as the preeminent labor and employment law firm representing corporate America.” Rody “enjoyed practicing in both areas despite great differences conceptually and legally between labor and employment law.”
After retiring in 2001, Rody continued to help clients navigate employment and other legal issues through his own firm, Human Resources Advocates, LLC. For the last 20 years, Rody served as an arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (formerly the National Association of Securities Dealers), arbitrating disputes between securities brokers and their customers. He served on the Hinsdale Zoning Board of Appeals and volunteered for the College of DuPage Foundation. Along with the rest of the Biggert family, he pitched in to assist Judy during her biannual election campaigns until she left Congress in 2013.
While Freud emphasized liebe und arbeit, he neglected spielen, playing and having fun. Rody and his family did not. After Amherst he continued to play tennis and squash as well as golf, playing to a 22 handicap. He was especially enthusiastic about sailing, an activity he had begun as a boy in Chicago. He took the family on numerous bare boat charters to Green Bay, Fla., and even the Caribbean, which involved some serious blue water sailing.
John Davenport ’58 and Ned Megargee ’58