Santa Paula Times

James T. Biggers, Class of 1927

May 14, 2004
Santa Paula High School
By B. J. Harding, President, SPUHS Alumni Association Biography #233 (Have you submitted yours?)James Thomas Biggers came to Santa Paula from Monrovia, California with his family in 1911. His parents were James H. and Bessie Cavaness Biggers, and their eight children were George (22), Howard (26), our subject, Elizabeth (27), Alice (30), John (35), Frances (38) and Edith (42). The family lived up Santa Paula Canyon on a 15-acre ranch and the children all went to Mupu Grammar School.James attended SPUHS, graduating with the Class of 1927. From there he attended Pasadena Junior College 1929-1930, and then transferred to the University of California in Berkeley in 1931, receiving an A.B. degree in chemistry in 1934.Because of the depression chemists were a dime a dozen, so after graduation James got a job with Associated Oil Co. at Avon, CA, working as a laborer for $3.16 per day. In a few months he got a promotion to work in the Operations Department with an increase in pay, and after four years with the company he was accepted in the Chemical Laboratory, but with a cut in pay. He later became supervisor of the Chemical Control Laboratory, and then foreman of an operating unit.In 1960 James was sent to Denmark to help start the first modern oil refinery in that country. He was in charge of operating units there and rapidly learned the Danish language. He then returned to Avon to finish out his career until his retirement in 1972.
James married Edna DeYoung in 1931 and they lived in Martinez, CA for many years. Because of ill health, the doctors suggested they leave the San Francisco Bay area, so they moved to Fresno where they raised three sons, Robert, Edwin and David. Edna regained her health so she was able to teach school. James commuted from Fresno to Avon, coming home on weekends to be with his family.In 1983 Edna passed away after 51 years of marriage. James married Mary Ann Elliott McCalister, a family friend, and this marriage lasted for 19 years until her death in 2003.When living in Santa Paula, the Biggers were instrumental in starting the Santa Paula Church of Christ in the early 1920s. James, now retired, still lives in Fresno.