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Joe Wiginton

Nov.25.1932 – Aug.31.2018

Joe Wiginton

Joe’s hard work ethic was instilled in him at a very early age as the son of a sharecropper in Texas. Joe began his career in the fire sprinkler industry at the age of 17 as a pipe fitter’s helper at the Memphis, Texas Cotton Mill.  Joe was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1950 and honorably discharged in 1953. After a tour of duty with the U.S. Army Combat Engineers, Joe returned to work in the fire sprinkler industry where he held increasingly more demanding positions in the industry in Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. In 1956, Joe married JoDell Parchman of Mount Vernon, TX, Don and Alan’s mother, and settled in Florida to start his life and family. In 1967, Joe founded Wiginton Fire Sprinklers, Inc. in Orlando, Florida. Wiginton Fire Sprinklers evolved into a full service fire protection firm licensed in most of the 50 states.  In 1988, Joe opened Quality Fabrication & Supply, and then in 1997, sons, Don and Alan, formed Wiginton Fire Protection Engineering, Inc.  In 1999, the Wiginton brothers began developing additional capabilities in fire alarms, extinguishers and non-water based suppression. In 2008, Wiginton became a 100% employee owned company. This was very rewarding to Joe. Ownership thinking was backed up with actual ownership. In 2017, Wiginton Corporation, now the parent company with 400 + employees strong, celebrated it’s 50th anniversary. Joe was there and loved every minute of it.  

Joe was a visionary and always had great leadership skills. He believed strongly in training and developing people. One thing that always stood out was the way he related to people. He knew everyone’s name and had a sincere interest in what was going on with each of them. He made everyone feel like part of the Wiginton Family. Integrity and Dedication are Wiginton Corporation’s core values and also Joe’s finest traits. He believed in being honest with people and staying loyal to them. He believed in doing it right the first time and doing the right thing all of the time. That was called the Wig Way and that phrase is still embodied in the company today.

In 1986, Joe married Judy Church Saunders Wiginton, the love of his life, who was instrumental in merging two families, always welcoming all former husbands, wives and in-laws to feel included, whether it be a holiday feast, community project of some sort or epic vacation. Judy supported Joe as the consummate wife and matriarch, there with him, every step of the way. Their marriage, parenting styles, community involvement, compassion and pursuit of wholesome fun are shining examples for all to follow.   

Joe served on the Board of Directors of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, chaired the Seminar and Membership Committees, and served as President of the Florida Fire Sprinkler Association. Joe was instrumental in forming NFSA’s Florida Chapter.  He served on the NFSA Board of Directors as an alternate Director for Board Chairman. His passion was to promote the concept of life saving fire sprinklers, through industry unity, high quality standards and training craftsmen, despite their labor affiliation. In 1995, Joe was selected by his peers to be presented with the highest honor in the fire sprinkler industry, NFSA’s Golden Sprinkler Award, the first open-shop contractor to be presented with this prestigious award.  It was presented at the NFSA 79th Annual Seminar held at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel before an audience of over 1,000 people. Joe’s employees loaded up on buses bound for the Swan Hotel, excited to witness the event. Joe has since been inducted into the NFSA Hall of Fame. In the year 1995, Joe began his retirement and transitioned full reigns of Wiginton Corporation to his sons, Don and Alan. 

Joe believed in giving back to his community.

In the early 1970’s, despite Joe’s busy business schedule, he served as Seminole County Chairman of the YMCA, President of both Longwood Chamber of Commerce and the PTA, and as a board member of the Association of Building Contractors. Joe championed state licensure of the fire sprinkler industry which is based on quality training and experience. He also assisted in the development of the first open shop sprinkler fitter’s school in Florida. In 2005, Joe was inducted into the Mid-Florida Business Hall of Fame for his leadership in the business world through enduring contributions to Junior Achievement, the success of the Free Enterprise System, as well as improving products, efficiencies and human relations of business. Also, fire sprinkler systems were donated to the Russell Home for Atypical Children, the Kid’s House and Grove Counseling Center, to name a few. Joe and his wife, Judy, also heavily contributed to the eradication of homelessness, breast cancer and Alzheimers disease. 

Joe was always such a charismatic leader. He always managed to be upbeat and positive and energetic, no matter what the circumstances. He encouraged, inspired and took the time to teach each and every one of us who he touched in life. Wiginton Corporation became one of the most respected names in fire protection and is known nationally as one of the best companies to work for in the industry, and Joe himself, has become a legend known for his INTEGRITY and DEDICATION. He will be missed dearly.

A Celebration of Joe’s Life will be held on October 20, 2018, at 2:00 pm at the Orlando Marriott – Lake Mary, 1501 International Parkway, Lake Mary, FL 32746.  All interested parties are encouraged to join the celebration. In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation in honor of Joe Wiginton at the following link, 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Flagler County & St. Johns County.

Memories & Condolences

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  1. Michael Young says:

    * A great man and visionary. Sorry for your loss Wiginton family. Peace & Love, Team SIX

  2. Jenny says:

    He definitely served his purpose in life. You can see his love, dedication, selflessness, hard work through out the Wiginton employees. It’s one big happy family here.

  3. Dohn Sims says:

    To Joe’s family and loved ones, we are sorry for your loss.
    Joe showed us all what it meant to be a GREAT human being. His thoughtfulness, caring nature, and dedication to every endeavor in which he was involved, showed us a path that was lighted by his brilliance.
    We will all miss him very much, but he will not be forgotten.
    Because he sowed the seeds into the activities he fostered and those seeds will continue to sprout,grow and developed into more genuine people who will take the cue from his life to make the world a better place,
    May God Bless All of You.