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Published: Tuesday, 8/10/2004

Activist fought for needs of mental health in her county

HUDSON, Mich. - Wanda Jeanne Briggs, 73, who served on the county's mental health board for more than 15 years, died in her home Sunday after a long struggle with cancer.

Born in Piqua, Ohio, Mrs. Briggs lived in various parts of the country before moving into the Hudson area in 1937.

"She was very involved in this community. She will be sorely missed," said Sara Webster, her daughter.

Mrs. Briggs graduated from Addison High School in 1949, and married her high school sweetheart, Vernon, in the summer of 1950. She went on to receive a license from the Riggs Beauty School and a degree from Hillsdale College.

A member of Wheatland Congregational Church and later Hudson United Methodist Church, she was deeply involved in the choir and women's groups at both churches. She sang and played piano and the organ.

"She was very loving, very caring, and always had a smile," Mrs. Webster said. "I will miss her sage advice and wisdom."

A member of the Hillsdale Social Services Club, the Foster Care Review Board of the state of Michigan, and a board member of the Life Ways Community Health of Hillsdale and Jackson Counties, Mrs. Briggs was passionate about the needs and rights of mental health patients, her daughter said.

Surviving are her husband, Vernon; daughters, Janet Briggs, Sara Webster, and Julie Beach; son, John, and six grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. today at the Brown-Van Hemert Funeral Home, Hudson. Burial will follow at Evergreen-Burt Cemetery in Ransom. The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Hillsdale County or Hudson First United Methodist Church.

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