Ray Biggerstaff, Woodlands publisher and community leader, dies at 74
Ray Biggerstaff had a larger-than-life presence in The Woodlands.
For nearly three decades, Biggerstaff was an integral part of the Houston Community Newspapers publications. The Villager and The Courier. He took over as publisher of the two papers in 2011, before retiring two years later. His positions with HCN made him not only integral to the newspapers, but to the community itself - the go-to man for community members and leaders.
On Sunday morning, the day before Christmas Eve, Biggerstaff passed away at the age of 74 after a years-long battle with a chronic inflammatory lung disease, COPD.
“Ray is known by one and all in The Woodlands,” said Paul Lazzaro, vice president of marketing of The Woodlands Villager. “He’s a fabulous, honest, trustworthy, intelligent man.”
Lazzaro and Biggerstaff met each other working at The Villager, but soon turned into best friends.
With his talent, dedication and connections, Biggerstaff was a major contributor to The Woodlands, Lazzaro said.
Biggerstaff found his way into the news business in 1987, starting at The Courier in Conroe after working in printing and publishing at several companies in the Houston area, including Eckerd Corp.
In 1993, Biggerstaff started work in the sales department for The Woodlands Villager, which was founded in 1977. And in 1995, he became the publisher of The Villager.
Between 1995 and 2013 - the time during which Biggerstaff was publisher of The Villager - the newspaper’s circulation grew to 42,000 and was incorporated into HCN, which has 26 Houston-area newspapers.
“Ray has built The Villager into what it is today - the primary source of news, information and advertising for residents and businesses in The Woodlands and surrounding areas,” Jason Joseph, general manager of Houston Community Newspapers, told the Chronicle in 2013. “He is not only the face of The Villager, but one of the recognized and respected individuals in The Woodlands.”
Biggerstaff was also known for his commitment to the community, particularly through his support of local nonprofit organizations.
“(Ray) cares a lot about the community and always is looking for ways to leverage The Villager to the benefit of the community,” Julie Martineau, president of the Montgomery County United Way, told The Chronicle in 2013. “He has helped make sure the nonprofits get the exposure they needed to be success.”
Lazzaro said one of his favorite memories with Biggerstaff were their monthly poker games for the past decade, that Biggerstaff usually won.
“He holds the poker record for our group,” Lazzaro said. “Unfortunately he’s not going to be able to make the next game on Jan. 11. We’re hoping to do a memorial for him.”
Biggerstaff’s wife, Linda, is waiting until after the holidays to hold a memorial service for her husband.