Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Wiggins leaves legacy of coffee, fashion

Express Staff Writer

Millie Wiggins

Millie Wiggins, a 47-year resident of Ketchum, died of lung cancer Tuesday, May 1, at St. Luke's Regional Medical Center in Boise. She was 74.

The longtime owner of the clothing shop Avventurra, Wiggins retired last June. She was the Wood River Valley's first true "fashionista," bringing high fashion and designer duds to a Western outpost.

Just three weeks ago, "her doctor had told her she had three months to a year," said Connie Maricich Chesnel, of Hailey. "We spent the last few weeks making plans for her burial and service. She was very positive about it."

"She came to visit (in 1960) and never left," Chesnel said. "Millie and I were best friends in high school in Richmond, California. Then we were business partners for 17 years. She and her (former) husband Mike Solheim ran Leadville Espresso House for us.

"We also were partners in Avventura. We were written up in Women's Wear Daily, and traveled to Europe to do our buying. Millie kept the store going. It was an institution as was she."

Wiggins, who kept a close eye on city politics, pushed to have the "Eat More Lamb" sign repainted on the outside of the Lane Mercantile building, which now houses Starbucks at the corner of Main Street and Sun Valley Road.

In addition, Wiggins was the brain behind the all-nude "Sun Valley Exposed" 2005 calendar done for the Sun Valley-Ketchum Historical Society, of which she was a board member.

"We had such fun putting that calendar together," fellow board member Betty Murphy said. "She was a real Ketchum character."

Wiggins is survived by two siblings, Pat Pillion and Norma Madison, both of California, as well as five nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at a future date.

"The high points are all when you're young and all the lights are golden," Wiggins once said.

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