Tuesday, October 5, 2004

James Kiggen, 72, business, civic gem

'Renaissance Man' had many passions

By Jennifer Edwards
Enquirer staff writer

HYDE PARK - Business and civic leader James D. Kiggen had many passions in life: His family and community, the companies he led and the landscape he revered.

The former chairman and director of Cincinnati Bell graced countless lives with his generous spirit, leadership and good humor during his 25 years in the Queen City, family members, friends and colleagues said Monday.

Surrounded by his wife and children, Mr. Kiggen died Saturday at his Hyde Park home of cancer. He was 72.

At the helm of Cincinnati Bell until his 2002 retirement, Mr. Kiggen stabilized the company and pushed it to grow, said Phil Cox, Cincinnati Bell's current chairman.

Mr. Kiggen was director of Cincinnati Bell from 1983 until his retirement; he was named chairman in January 1999.

"He was part of that generation of people who made the company the best-run telephone company in America," said Cox.

He was also devoted to his family, said his son, James D. Kiggen Jr., of New York City.

"My father was a tremendous loving presence in our lives," he said. "He had a wonderful marriage, he was devoted to his children and grandchildren, and he lived every day as an example of strength and humor and accomplishment. I can't begin to describe how much we will miss him."

Mr. Kiggen also had served as the chairman and CEO of Xtek Inc., a private manufacturing business based in Cincinnati. He was a director of Fifth Third Bancorp and the United States Playing Card Co.

"He is a firm, fair leader with a lot of tenacity," said Jim Schwab, U.S. Bank's Cincinnati market president.

Schwab succeeded Mr. Kiggen as president and chairman of the board at Xtek after Kiggen stepped down to go to Cincinnati Bell.

"We did business with the steel industry, and the steel industry goes through these great cycles and he led the business through cycles and did a tremendous job with that," Schwab said.

Mr. Kiggen was diligent in working to enhance the commercial, civic and cultural life of Cincinnati. He held leadership positions with more than 40 community organizations and institutions, including chairing the 1995 Fine Arts Fund.

He also assumed responsibilities with the United Way, Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Cincinnati, Cincinnati Business Committee and leading the 2001 Campaign for WCET Channel 48.

"He cared a lot about the community, and the people in organizations he was associated with were important to him," Schwab said. "He is a real Renaissance man. He loved classical music and loved to read, but he also liked to play golf and hunt."In 2002, Mr. Kiggen and his wife, Ann, received United Way's Alexis de Tocqueville Award for community service and philanthropy.

An enthusiastic outdoorsman, Mr. Kiggen spent many hours in trout streams around the world. He also was accomplished at sporting clays, and he served as a director of the Ruffed Grouse Society and on the advisory councils of the Yellowstone Park Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

"Jim didn't only accomplish things with uncommon excellence," said a family friend, Paul G. Sittenfeld of East Walnut Hills, "He lived his life with an energy, a warmth and a vitality which made him both admired and loved."

Born in Cleveland and raised in Montclair, N.J., Mr. Kiggen graduated with honors from Harvard College in 1954 and from the Harvard Business School in 1958.

Besides his wife and son, Mr. Kiggen is survived by his brother, John A. Kiggen III of Paris, France; and six other children and step-children: Michael C. Kiggen of Orlando, Fla., Elizabeth Kiggen Isaac of Burlington, Vt.., Frederick J. Kiggen of Orlando, Fla., Andrew T. Felber of Washington, D.C., and Carolyn Felber Bankhurst and Linda Felber Wirtshafter, both of Cleveland; and 14 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Indian Hill Church.

Memorials may be sent to Hospice of Cincinnati, 4310 Cooper Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242; or the Ann & Jim Kiggen Fund at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, 200 W. Fourth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202.


E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com

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James Kiggen, 72, business, civic gem