Leo Riley “Sonny” Staggs

Leo Riley “Sonny” Staggs

Sarepta, Webster Parish, Louisiana, USA
Death 25 Jul 2008 (aged 84)
Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, USA
Burial Sarepta, Webster Parish, Louisiana, USA
Memorial ID 28555879 · View Source
Suggest Edits

God blessed my brothers and me with the best Grandpa!

On Friday evening, 1 June 2001, I thought I would ask Grandpa a few questions and actually take the time to jot the answers down. He would always discuss his childhood, etc. and I would love his stories.

I asked him how he got the nickname "Sonny" and his reply was "I couldn't talk plain and I would say 'Leo It Staggs' and John D. or Florence started calling me 'Sonny'."

I asked him how he met Grandma - "At Kings Corner Church. She was real dark red headed. I said she's going to be my wife one day. She was 6 or 7 and I was 10 or 11."

When was your first date/outing with Grandma - "In 1946, on a Saturday evening I was in a drug store buying a pint of whiskey and J. A. & Wallace Morgan (Grandma's brothers) came in with ___ Smith (Wallace's girlfriend - I withheld first name), Eva Rae Rhymes (J. A.'s girlfriend - later to become his wife), _____ Grisham (I withheld name), and Nell.

J. A. & Wallace wanted me to go with them. I said no because I didn't want the girls to know I was buying whiskey. We went out back and they raised the turtle hull and I put the whiskey in there and then told them "I put the monkey in the turtle hull". I ended up leaving with them. During the evening I would go out to the car to see how the "monkey" was doing."

He was drafted into the service - "I wasn't going to do nothing to stay out." While in New Guinea, a hand grenade went off and got shrapnel in his leg. "Carl (his brother) and I got to spend 14 days together."

I asked Grandpa if he ever felt different being a grandchild instead of a "birth" child of his grandparents. He said he never felt anything but their son and called them Mom and Dad and was a sibling to all his aunts and uncles. When questioned about his birth dad not being around, he replied "It was just one of those things." He never harbored any ill feelings toward his birth dad.

Then of course the best story he and his brothers/sisters would tell is how he became the "Kick-A-Poo Stud".

What I would give to have just one more conversation with Grandpa....

Grandpa loved tinkering with cars. He made the best pancakes with sugar syrup!


Email I sent out to family and friends at 7:37 a.m. on Saturday, 26 July 2008, the morning following Grandpa's passing.

My dear family & friends

It's with a heavy heart that I inform you of my grandpa's passing. About 6:15 p.m. last night he died at the VA Hopsital. He just celebrated his 84th birthday on Tuesday (and the staff treated him like a King).

He was admitted into the hospital on Monday for high potassium after going for a routine doctor visit that morning. As I understand it, high potassium is bad for the kidneys & heart. He was in good spirits Tuesday & Wednesday morning when I delivered him coffee & donuts before heading in to work. In the evenings, he would put in his request for what he wanted (yes, ice cream & Wednesday night we chowed down on chicken livers). He was great when I left him about 8:30 Wednesday night. About 1:00 a.m. Thursday morning, his roommate (who is a man about 63 & took care of grandpa during the night when we weren't there), called me to say that Grandpa was having severe leg pains. This wasn't uncommon as he would suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome. When we got up there Grandpa knew who we were & where he was, but he was very agitated. They couldn't get him settled & unfortunately had to restrain him. After running scans about 4:00 p.m., they took him in to do surgery on blood clots in his leg. We saw him about 6:30 Thursday night & he looked peaceful. They advised us that they might have to do surgery again on Friday. They took him in twice, but the blood wouldn't stop clotting & it was putting a strain on his heart. Aunt Carolyn, Paula, Aunt Joyce, Debbie, & Uncle Gene (via telephone) were with us with when he passed.

To my family, y'all know how much he loved y'all. How he looked forward to our annual family reunions. He loved hearing about your children & grandchildren & what was going on in your lives.

To my friends, thanks for listening to my stories about my grandpa & always inquiring about his health these last few years.

I'm so thankful that he was blessed to have such a long (and healthy, for the most part) life. He & Grandma celebrated 62 years of marriage in March (for those who didn't know, Jody & I were married on their 46th anniversary). I'm going to miss our weekly outings where we would usually go get malts or banana splits & we would just talk. I will miss those stories of the 'old days'. But what I'm most thankful for is the secure, safe and happy childhood (and adulthood) that he provided for Randall, Chuck, & I. As one cousin told me..'the person you are is a direct result of the child Uncle Sonny raised' & I believe that (he was my grandpa biologically, but my daddy who taught me right from wrong & how to work hard for what we want - along with many other things).

(Attached 48 various pictures of Grandpa)

Thanks for your thoughts & prayers.

Love you


Funeral services for Mr. Leo Riley "Sonny" Staggs, 84, of Sarepta, will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 29, 2008, at Kings Corner Assembly of God with the Rev. Jeff Manuel and the Rev. Mike Richardson officiating. Interment will follow at the Old Sarepta Cemetery under the direction of Bailey Mortuary, Springhill.

Please join us for visitation from 5 until 9 p.m. today, July 28, at Bailey Mortuary.

Mr. Staggs left his earthly home on Friday, July 25, 2008, at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center after a brief illness.

He was born on July 22, 1924, to James Rush and Leola Basinger Staggs in Sarepta. After his mother died in childbirth, along with his twin brother, Leon Rush Staggs, he was raised by his maternal grandparents, James Frank and Maggie Ola Bullock Basinger.

Mr. Staggs was proud to have served his country during World War II in the US Army. He was inducted at Camp Beauregard on September 25, 1943, and was stationed at New Guinea from May 1944 to January 1946. On January 31, 1946, he was honorably discharged at Camp Fannin, Texas.

After returning from the war, Sonny married the love of his life, Vernell "Nell" Morgan on March 20, 1946, in Magnolia, Ark. Shortly after marriage, Sonny and Nell moved to Houston, Texas to find employment at Armco Steel. In August 1983, Sonny retired from Armco after more than 30 years of dedicated service.

Upon retirement, Sonny and his family returned to his hometown of Sarepta where he enjoyed fishing, BBQ's, being with his family and watching the new great-grandchildren blossom.

He is preceded in death by his biological parents, Leola Basinger Staggs and James Rush Staggs; twin brother, Leon Rush Staggs; maternal grandparents, Maggie Ola Bullock Basinger and James Frank Basinger, Sr.; sisters, Florence Basinger Morgan and Marjorie Basinger Burks; and brothers, James Thomas, Murphie, Nolan, John D., O. C. and Norville Basinger.

He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Nell Morgan Staggs of Sarepta; his only child, daughter, Shirley Giddings and husband Charles of Sarepta; grandchildren, Randall and Heather Alfred of Sarepta, Colette Alfred-Sikes and Jody Sikes of Minden and Chuck Warford of Sarepta; great-grandchildren, Cameron, Presley, Kielerr and Chastan Alfred, all of Sarepta.

Additional survivors are his sisters, Joyce Basinger Boyett of Shreveport and Carolyn Basinger Palmer and husband Harold of Sarepta; brothers, Jimmy Basinger and wife Dot of Conway, Ark., Carl Basinger of Springhill, Bill Basinger and wife Clara of Trinity, Texas, and Eugene Basinger and wife Ellawease of West Memphis, Ark.

One of Sonny's greatest accomplishments was selflessly raising his three grandchildren, Colette, Randall and Chuck. He gave them a secure, safe and happy childhood that will be remembered beyond time.

To sum up the kind and gentle life of Sonny "Pappaw" Staggs:

And he bowed his head to Jesus
And he stood for Uncle Sam
And he only loved one woman
He was always proud of what he had
He said his greatest contribution
Is the ones you leave behind
Raised on the ways and gentle kindness
Of a small town southern man

Though it breaks our hearts to lose him, we know that he will be preparing our next happy home in Heaven. He'll forever be remembered for his wonderful stories, laid back personality and those baby blue eyes.

Serving as pallbearers will be Butch Basinger, Gary Don Basinger, Tony Boyett, Gary Morgan, Mark Morgan and Marty Morgan.

Serving as an honorary pallbearer will be his great-grandson, Cameron Alfred.

Published in the MINDEN PRESS-HERALD on Monday, 28 July 2008. Some form of the obituary was also published in the HOUSTON CHRONICLE, SHREVEPORT TIMES, and SPRINGHILL PRESS.


Maternal grandparents that raised him: Maggie Ola Bullock Basinger & James Frank Basinger, Sr.

Family Members


  • Maintained by: Colette Alfred-Sikes
  • Originally Created by: John Andrew Prime
  • Added: 27 Jul 2008
  • Find a Grave Memorial 28555879
  • Colette Alfred-Sikes
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Leo Riley “Sonny” Staggs (22 Jul 1924–25 Jul 2008), Find a Grave Memorial no. 28555879, citing Old Sarepta Cemetery, Sarepta, Webster Parish, Louisiana, USA ; Maintained by Colette Alfred-Sikes (contributor 47184593) .