Colonel Robert Berle Bigelow, United States Air Force (retired), 90, passed away on 26 February 2016 in Vancouver, Washington due to natural causes.
Colonel Bigelow, the youngest of five boys, was born to Karl Kenneth and Clara Jane Daugherity Bigelow on 31 October 1925 in Amarillo, Texas.
After a typical Panhandle upbringing and much to his mother’s consternation he followed in his older brother’s footsteps and entered the military, enlisting in the United States Navy in 1942.
After serving in the South Pacific during World War II, he returned home and began his academic life.
In 1950 Colonel Bigelow enlisted in the USAF to fulfill his dream of becoming a pilot.
While stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, he met the vivacious former Miss Spokane, Marcia Joan Gusman.
Romance ensued and they married on 14 May 1955.
During his service in the Air Force, Colonel Bigelow completed both foreign and domestic tours of duty to include combat tours in both Korea and Vietnam.
He was the recipient of numerous awards and commendations to include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal and Presidential Unit Citation.
Colonel Bigelow retired from the Air Force in 1980 after a distinguished thirty-year career.
After retirement the family moved to Spokane in 1982 where they settled into a comfortable life.
Marcia passed away in 2004 and Bob moved to Vancouver, Washington in 2005.
Bob had a passion for crossword puzzles and tinkering around the house.
He could often be found in his workshop with his Shopsmith humming!
He later developed a passion for golf and as long as the weather was somewhat friendly he would often be found out on the links and was often a participant in local, regional and statewide tournaments.
He was also an active volunteer - tutoring first-graders in math for many years, as well as delivering meals to the elderly twice a week.
A proud, well-respected member of our community and possessing a wry wit, he showed compassion and respect for any and all, no matter the circumstance.
But above all there was nothing more important than his family.
He and Marcia raised three sons and one daughter and were also foster parents to numerous children throughout the years.
Colonel Bigelow is survived by his brother K.K.
Bigelow, 94; and his four children, Mark Alan, Tracey Ann, Scott Anthony and Richard Alec.
He is also survived by 11 grandchildren along with numerous nieces and nephews.
A private memorial will be held with the family later this year.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made directly to the school where he volunteered.
Checks should be mailed to the Mill Plain School Parent Teachers Organization, 400 S.E.
164th Avenue, Vancouver, Washington, 98684.
In the ‘memo’ line please reference ‘Mr.
The funds will go directly towards student needs.
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