Finding Inspiration in Every Turn

File # Sct. 99

Hamilton Fisk Biggar III

Hamilton Fisk Biggar III sees Cleveland through the 64-year-old eyes of a blueblood, outdoorsman, builder, disco king and squash star.

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Hamilton Fisk Biggar V.
Son of
Hamilton Fisk Biggar, Dr.  & Cornelia W. Williams 

Scotland - Canada

MONDAY, JUNE 9, 2014

In the News: The Passing of Hamilton Fisk Biggar V

A little over a week ago news broke over the passing of Hamilton Fisk "Ham" Biggar, III, the noted conservationist and fly angler from Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Fisk was a legend in the northern part of Ohio, working with numerous organizations over the past four decades including Ducks and Trout Unlimited. He was past president of the The Trout Club of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and an accomplished athlete who served on the U.S. Squash Association's board and founded a number of disco dance clubs in the 1970s, among many other accomplishments.

A member of a famed Cleveland family (his great-great-grandfather was Dr. Hamiton Fisk Biggar, who was John D. Rockefeller's personal physician and his uncle Jim Biggar was CEO of Nestle), he was technically Ham Biggar V (his father changed his name from H.F. Biggar IV to Jr. to avoid being made fun of during WWII).

Biggar was larger than life and spent most of his time promoting Cleveland and Ohio outdoors. He passed away at the age of 67, far too young. He will be very missed in all corners of the Buckeye state.

-- Dr. Todd

BIGGAR HAMILTON FISK BIGGAR V "HAM" age 67, of Cleveland Heights,

OH passed peacefully surrounded by his family at home. He is survived by

his loving wife, Terry (nee Gentles), his daughter, Brooke Littman (husband

Chris), his sons, H. Fisk VI (wife Rebecca) and Mark. He was a wonderful

"Hampa" to his grandchildren, Brynn, Macy and Tucker. Brother of Jack

(deceased), Jeff (wife Margie) and Connie (deceased). He was the co-owner

of Drake Construction Company and previously, the founder of the Mad

Hatter, the Last Moving Picture Company, the 13th Street Racquet Club and

the Conneaut Creek Club. Friends and family are invited to celebrate Ham's

life on Saturday, May 31 at 4 p.m. at Hawken School's Upper Campus, 12465

County Line Road, Gates Mills. To honor his memory, go into the woods, cast a

line, and surround yourself with friends and family.


Grant Segall interview Oct 1, 2011

Hamilton Fisk Biggar III sees Cleveland through the 64-year-old eyes of a blueblood, outdoorsman, builder, disco king and squash star.

What's your relation to Dr. Hamilton Fisk Biggar, the pioneering homeopath, who treated John D. Rockefeller Sr. and golfed with him?

He's my great-great-grandfather.

Let's see: I, II, III ... what's wrong with my math?

I'm really Ham Biggar the Fifth. Dad changed the Fourth to Junior to avoid abuse from his fellow sailors in World War II.

Got any Hams or Hamlets of your own?

I have a son, the Sixth, who's in Aspen, Colo., and two other children. All of them are avid outdoors people.

What about Jim Biggar, who ran Nestle?

He's my uncle.

Do Clevelanders recognize the family name?

A lot. I run into medical students who have benefited from scholarships in Dr. Biggar's name, which is really nice.

Outside of family, do you have any local heroes?

Bob Feller. I was lucky enough to have met him and played with one of his sons, Marty, at Hawken. Marty was very good, an outfielder. I played third base. His dad would pitch against us. We didn't do well.

Jim Brown was a big hero. I loved the way he played football. I went to Syracuse later than Brown and played a little football and baseball. I punted barefoot. One of the coaches allegedly told Jim Brown he'd never make it as a running back.

Tell us about Cleveland's disco days.

I started the Mad Hatter, Cleveland's first disco, in 1971 and the Last Moving Picture Company in 1973. We were ahead of the curve. We ended up with 11 discos across the country. I had 10 years of starting work at 7 p.m.

It's an amazing city at night, behind the scenes. The stuff we did back then! The Mad Hatter had a Drink and Drown Wednesday. You could come in as a woman for $2 or a man for $3 and drink all you wanted for a penny a beer. Mixed drinks were a quarter. Think about that today. Everything's changed — for the better, by the way.

Tell us about your role in Cleveland's squash scene.

I started the 13th Street Racquet Club in 1979. Cleveland became one of the top squash centers. We hosted the nationals as well as the North American Open. I met my wife, Terry, on a squash court. I won city and state and southeast U.S. championships for different age groups, all in doubles, with Terry or with Jack Batt.

Now you're a Drake Construction exec. Tell us about rebuilding the region.

We did the Greyhound bus station renovation. NOACA headquarters downtown. Fieldstone Farm, the therapeutic riding in Auburn. We did the big expansion of St. Helen in Newbury.

Lately, I've been doing affordable housing in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia. We renovate occupied apartments in four days, where the tenants can come back inside and sleep every night. We've done 2,000 units. We just finished in Elyria, the Kensington Apartments.

Give us a peek at the private Conneaut Creek Club.

I started it 24 years ago. I'm the benevolent czar. It's a secluded couple hundred acres on Conneaut Creek. There's a remote cabin that sleeps 12, without electricity or water. Lots of trails for hiking and cross-country skiing. Two ponds, one for trout and one for bass. A sporting clay course that's very good. The overlook at Conneaut Creek's 100 feet up. We raise upland birds, pheasant, chucker and quail. We have great wild turkey and deer. We put in conservation easements to preserve the land forever.

I read where the club has the state's biggest northern red oak. You found it and got it certified in '97.

We did. Then we had a big flood. One of the sections disappeared. It's not the same tree anymore.

How's the weather out there?

A challenge. We do a lot of hunting in the winter. I can go to Conneaut and have it snow on me all day. I come back past 306 and there isn't any snow.

How's Ohio's wildlife?

In 1960, there were about 2,000 deer in the entire state, and there wasn't any deer hunting. Now I think we have larger and healthier deer than Pennsylvania. Wild turkeys were unheard of for hunting 20 years ago. Now we're full of them. The state's done a great job of managing our hunting. Bears are moving in. We've had footprints at Conneaut.

The area from Vermilion to Buffalo's called Steelhead Alley. It's fantastic trout fishing. You have a lot of full-time guides. You have stores that cater to it. Where I fish, on Conneaut, I see cars from Alaska, Montana, Wyoming. When I go West with my Conneaut Creek hat or coat, guides ask me about it. We're world-famous

You also hang out in the Adirondacks, a historic hangout for Clevelanders.

There's still a big Cleveland contingent up there, maybe 12 to 15 families at the Adirondack League Club.

Where's your main home?

I live at the top of Cedar Hill. I bought an old 1915 barn in 1972, and I've been converting it ever since. It never ends.

How's the wildlife on Cedar Hill?

I see turkey and owls and deer that really don't belong in the Heights. They're all through the Shaker Lakes. They keep breeding, and they've adapted. The deer will go where the habitat is and the predators aren't.

Working downtown, where do you grab a bite for lunch?

I eat at Artefino a lot. But we mostly eat in. We built a nice patio on our roof. It overlooks Cleveland State.

Where do you and Terry eat at night?

Lee Road, Little Italy, Shaker Square. I don't have a favorite. I love to park and walk and look in and say, "Let's try here tonight." I love the variety, from the Colony to the Pub, the Grotto, Michaelangelo's in Little Italy. You have so many choices so close.

What else do you like about Cleveland?

We have the best suburbs. All these years, I was bringing players in for squash tournaments and showing them the suburbs. You can drive from Chagrin Falls without seeing a commercial property of any kind. It's beautiful. People who come in from the East Coast cities look at our homes: "What's that worth? Five million?" "No, $700,000." It's truly amazing.

Dr. Biggar and Rockefeller, born the same year, vowed to golf together at age 100. But, despite long lives, they spent their 100th birthdays at Lake View Cemetery, not far apart. Will you join the Biggar plot there someday?

I love the outdoors so much, I hope to be scattered somewhere in the woods and water that's dear to me.