Two of the best

Tom Wigton

Tom Wigton

Only the best In the spirit of this Best of Chico issue you’re holding in your hands, Arts DEVO is proud to present his winner of the Best Reason to Celebrate Like a Champion: Tom Wigton—aka Tommy, aka T-Dub, aka the guy I feel honored to call my brother-in-law—is going to be inducted into the Chico State Athletic Hall of Fame this Saturday, Oct. 12, 5:30 p.m., at the BMU Auditorium! I am so damn proud; I could explode!

Tom was not an athlete, but he’s probably more popular at the school, and in the community in general, than just about anyone who has donned a uniform. As it says in the university’s inductee-announcement: “[It] would be profoundly difficult, if not impossible, to find an individual who has had a more lasting impact on the entire Wildcats Athletics department than Thomas Wigton.”

For the past 24 years, Tom has volunteered as a team manager for the university’s football, basketball and baseball teams, as well as the Chico High football team after the university’s football program folded. (And for good measure, he chipped in for Chico’s pro baseball teams—The Heat and The Outlaws—when they were in town.) His big-hearted enthusiasm, commitment to the work, and his genuine care for the people in the athletics department have been a constant, and it’s wonderful and humbling that the university is recognizing his efforts.

“Hall of Famer Tom Wigton.” That has a pretty sweet ring to it. You better get used to it, buddy. That is now and forever the only name I will be calling you by.

Congratulations … Hall of Famer Tom Wigton!

Grandma at age 16

Red Grandma There is no doubt that this weekend is going to be one of the most emotional of my life. The day after we toast my amazing friend/bro-in-law, I’ll be heading to Redding to join my family in celebrating the life of my grandmother, Janice McIrvin, who died last week.

We called her Red Grandma, because of her hair color (and to differentiate her from my dad’s white-haired mother; White Grandma, of course), and the name fit the bright, fiery, boisterous personality of the woman who never accepted “I’m bored” as an excuse, and was pied piper for her 13 grandchildren (and 22 great-grandchildren). She devoured us and we loved her for it.

As the oldest of my generation I am so grateful that I got to enjoy so many years with her. She was more than an important person in my life; she was crucial. Of the many ways she influenced me, what resonates strongest is how she always took an interest in the things I cared about, especially the music I liked. She’d listen with a critical ear—to the music and my excitement over it—and always give an honest verdict. (She liked The Cramps, and she loved Queen, especially A Night at the Opera, which she owned on vinyl.)

I actually lived with her for a while, when I was 18 and pit-stopping in Redding for a semester, and she was easily the most fun roommate I ever had. During that time she even loaned me the $175 to buy my first electric guitar (bass, actually—the Jammer!) and practice amp so that my old high-school buddies and I could start our first band. And she was standing there in the front row when Household Morgan played its first show on a flatbed trailer parked inside an old barn.

Over the last few years of her life, an insidious dementia slowly drained away many of the traits that defined the relationship we all had with her. Our love and affection and enjoyment of being with her never waned, of course; things just became different. But now that she’s gone, and everyone in the family is thinking about her life and sharing stories, all we remember are the things that made her “Red Grandma.” To borrow a line from a similarly themed column (about a different Janice) by CN&R’s Anthony Peyton Porter [“From the Edge,” Oct. 3, 2013]: “The rest falls away.”

Rest in peace, Red Grandma.