SHSMO Remembers

Charles W. Digges, Sr., 1919–2019

Charles Digges

Portrait of Charles and Kathy Digges

Charles W. Digges, Sr., a prominent Columbia business leader and longtime member and supporter of the State Historical Society of Missouri, passed away on January 30, 2019.

He was born in Columbia, Missouri, on January 5, 1919. Growing up in close proximity to the University of Missouri campus, Digges had a deep connection to the university and Columbia community his entire life. While attending Hickman High School, Digges was a classmate and basketball teammate of Sam Walton. Graduating from Hickman High School in 1936, Digges enrolled at the University of Missouri and earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration in 1940.

After graduating from the University of Missouri, Digges served in the US Army Air Forces during World War II and the Korean War. Trained as a bomber pilot on B-25s, B-17s, and B-29s, he flew combat missions during both conflicts.

Upon returning to Columbia after his military service, Digges joined the community's esteemed "Round Table" of local civic leaders and engaged in the insurance and investment business with Rollins-Vandiver Insurance Agency (eventually named Rollins-Vandiver-Digges) and later The Insurance Group, Inc. He became an active member of the Columbia community, including serving as president of the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Rotary Club. In 1986 he was named Outstanding Citizen of Columbia. Digges also served as a trustee for several organizations, including the State Historical Society of Missouri. In 1946, he married Margaret Wakefield, and they had one son, Charles W. Digges, Jr. Margaret passed away in 1967. In 1970, he married Kathy Yeargain.

For more information on the life of Charles W. Digges, Sr. see two interviews with him in the Haskell M. Monroe, Jr., Oral History, Collection (C3980). He was also featured in an article in the May 2018 Missouri Times. In an interview from 2018, Digges talks with Sean Rost, Mary Ellen Lohmann, and his wife, Kathy Digges, about his life, career, military service, and memories of Columbia. A link to the recorded interview is posted below.

The opinions expressed in this audio recording are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views and values of the State Historical Society of Missouri.