One of the First Black Watchmakers in Pittsburgh Celebrated His 103rd Birthday


October 5, 2020

Give him his flowers!

Centenarian Charles S. Wiggins has lived a long and distinguished life in Pittsburgh, and on Sept. 8th, he celebrated his 103rd birthday with a host of family and friends.


Wiggins, one of the first Black watchmakers in Pittsburgh, is a proud World War II Navy veteran. After all these years, he’s kept his “dog tags,” or Navy identification tags, which he received in the 1940s as mementos of his service. Although, when Wiggins returned from the war, he was not afforded many opportunities as a watchmaker and eventually began working at the post offce. There he continued his watchmaking.

“We have to take what we get here and make a good life out of what we receive, so don’t give in, don’t give up,” Wiggins told Chris Moore in an interview with WQED. “Keep plugging, and keep moving, and good things have to come out of what we end up with.”


However, decades later, he’s begun receiving the honor he deserves. In 2017, the Pittsburgh Steelers honored him on his 100th birthday, and this year Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History National President, sent him well wishes on another year.

“God has blessed you with a long life, and you have, in turn, blessed us with your presence and service,” Higginbotham told the New Pittsburgh Courier. “As a veteran, a contributor to the welfare of Pittsburgh, and a member of the Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch, you are loved, valued, and remembered with sincere appreciation on this, your special day.”

Happy Birthday, Mr. Wiggins! Thank you for your service!


Photo Credit: The New Pittsburgh Courier

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