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Orrie Biggles

Orrie James Biggles settled into his chair on Wednesday, with sunlight pouring through the open door of his garage on a cul de sac in east Santa Rosa.

A neighbor, who had just helped Biggles set out his trash can, was playing soccer with his son in the round court at the end of the street.

Biggles, a World War II medal winner who was born and raised on a two-horse farm in rural Georgia, quietly died of respiratory failure at age 100.

"That's how he went, sitting in the sun," said his daughter, Kathleen Chiappari of Santa Rosa. "He just fell asleep."

More than 70 people, some from as far away as Georgia and Florida, had attended his 100th birthday celebration on Nov. 30, a day after his actual birthday.

Friends and relatives will attend Biggles' funeral service at 11 a.m. today at the Lafferty - Smith Colonial Chapel, 4321 Sonoma Highway, Santa Rosa, followed by entombment with military honors at Santa Rosa Memorial Park's Valley View Mausoleum.

The day before he died, Biggles removed his oxygen line to start pruning his prized roses, an effort that taxed him, his daughter said.

"That's how he was," Chiappari said. "He was going to do it himself. He lived on his own terms."

At age 99, Biggles painted his own home. In his early 90s, he had painted neighbors' homes and regularly cleaned out the barn and tended the horses at Chiappari's home.

Her father's longevity was because of his genes, Chiappari said, reinforced by a diet heavy on homegrown vegetables and light on meat, without smoking for half a century and minimal alcohol.


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