Rigsby’s death means county loses more than a master mechanic

Owner of Emmitt’s Auto Repair remembered for being fair, honest, compassionate

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 9/23/20

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Clay County community recently lost one its auto repair cornerstones but the effects of that loss extend far beyond the doors of Emmitt’s Auto Repair shop.

A good auto …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for subscribing.

Single day pass

You also have the option of purchasing 24 hours of access, for $1.00. Click here to purchase a single day pass.

Rigsby’s death means county loses more than a master mechanic

Owner of Emmitt’s Auto Repair remembered for being fair, honest, compassionate

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Clay County community recently lost one its auto repair cornerstones but the effects of that loss extend far beyond the doors of Emmitt’s Auto Repair shop.

A good auto repair shop is a shop that fixes your car for a fair price. A great auto repair shop is a shop that fixes your car for a fair price, tells you the truth and treats you like you’re family.

For hundreds in Clay County, mechanic Matthew Rigsby at Emmitt’s Auto Repair just a couple of miles outside of Green Cove Springs’ city limits was that shop.

“His work ethic was, ‘100% the right way every time,’” Teresa Rigsby said of her late husband. “He didn’t take anything less and he never took shortcuts. He hand-touched every single vehicle in our shop and nothing left our driveway unless he was happy. It was ‘work, work, work’ until the job was done.”

Rigsby died on Aug. 3 and it was a big loss for his family, obviously, but also a loss for the greater Clay County community. Rigsby wasn’t just an auto repair guy – he was their auto repair guy.

The shop’s name comes from Rigsby’s father, who was named Emmitt, and the company started as a business on Collins Road. It was called Emmitt’s Auto Service, Inc. when it began in 1970. Rigsby had worked at the shop since he was 8 or 9 years old, or as Teresa puts it, “old enough to push a broom.” When Rigsby graduated in 1979, he went full time.

Emmitt’s Auto Repair was opened by Rigsby on 3150 U.S. Highway 17 where it still offers service today.

Teresa and Matthew Rigsby had been together for 42 years and married for 40 of those years. The couple recently celebrated their 40th anniversary back in June. She said one of the things she missed most about him now that he’s not in the shop daily with her is his headstrong run-a-great-business attitude.

Teresa and the rest of the Emmitt’s Auto Repair staff continue to carry forward the legacy of Rigsby’s work ethic, but she said he was “truly one of a kind.” She said he could tell you anything and everything going on in the shop. And that no matter how stressed he was, he was always on top of things.

She had known for years that Rigsby was an important figure in the Clay County community. She recalled all the times his favorite “lil old ladies” would come to the storefront and talk to him, pouring their hearts out.

“He always listened, no matter how much work he had to get done that day,” Teresa said. “He was always talking with the Quigley House and other local places like that. He just cared about you and cared about helping you...didn’t matter whether he knew you or not.”

Teresa recalls a vacation the two took two years ago and how quickly Rigsby dropped what he was doing to help a girl out having car troubles near their vacation spot. That’s just what he did, even on vacation, she said.

When Rigsby passed away, Teresa learned even more of the hearts Rigsby touched.

“To be honest, I’ve been around him so much that I knew every one of the people that came to his funeral,” Teresa said. “In that state of mind though, I don’t remember who all was there though now...I know a lot of people were there and I’m sure I knew them but I just remember hugging a lot of people that day.”

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the turnout at his funeral, but Teresa she’s received dozens of cards.

“When I moved to Florida in 2003, my husband had passed away the previous December,” one of the cards reads. “Needless to say, I was a mess. You and Matt were a blessing to me. You gave me security and peace of mind that there was someone out there to depend on when things went wrong with our vehicles. You can’t imagine how much I appreciated it. I needed someone I could trust and depend on and y'all were there.”

“I had only known Matthew and you for a short period, just over a year,” another card reads. “I feel like he and I grew up together. He made it feel that way. Most honest, friendly, and humble of a person I have ever had the honor of knowing.”

“He always made me feel so welcome and attentively cared for at the ‘shop’ and as a neighbor,” another card reads. “I share your grief.”

The three cards expressed the same feelings that dozens of other cards Teresa has received expressed. They adorn the shop’s main office now alongside a beautifully-made poster filled with dozens of photos of Rigsby and the people he loved.

“He was a great contributor to the community,” Teresa said. “They always appreciated Matt’s straightforwardness. There wasn’t a quote you questioned from him because if Matt said you needed this, you needed it.”

Teresa and the rest of the Emmitt’s Auto Repair team are still working day in and day out to uphold and uplift Rigsby’s legacy: honest work, great customer service, and a dedication to helping those around them the best they can.

“That’s what he was about,” she said.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment