Ernest Lewis Bigelow, 75, passed away peacefully on July 16, 2021, at his residence in Merriman, NE.
Ernie was born on March 7, 1946 in Seattle, WA to Verlia May Parmenter and Allen Ernest Bigelow. His family later moved to Iowa where his four younger siblings were born. His family relocated again to Kansas City and found themselves faced with many hardships. As a child, Ernie found two foster families that he spent time with that loved him as their own.
Ernie Bigelow enlisted in the United States Army on April 10, 1963 at the age of 17, where he later received his GED. After basic training at Ft. Polk, LA, he attended supply school there in the 4th Training Regiment. In August of 1963, he was assigned to the 70th Medical Dept APO 219, in France. In June of 1965, he was then assigned to the 69th Transportation Co. in Heidelberg, Germany.
In September of 1965, PFC Bigelow was crowned winner in a national pistol shooter match in which he was awarded a trophy for.
Ernie was assigned to multi-engine, single rotor, helicopter mechanic school in Ft. Eustis, VA, then transferred to Ft. Meade before going to Vietnam.
PFC Bigelow served with the 11th Armored Cavalry in Vietnam starting on December 14, 1966. While in Vietnam, he was part of two operations; Cedar Falls and Junction City. He was then assigned to an advisory team called the “Mountain Yards.” He received the Award of the Army Commendation Medal for his heroics acts in 1967 during a specialist’s operation. Then in 1968, Ernie was also awarded two separate Air Medals for his outstanding achievement while participating in sustained aerial flight. He participated in more than 25 aerial missions over hostile territory in support of combat operations. Due to being injured in the war, he was later discharged on April 9, 1969.
Ernie received three Purple Heart Awards for his courageous service during his time in Vietnam.
After coming home from Vietnam, Ernie spent time in Biloxi, MS working on shrimp and fish boats, and also doing off shore drilling. After Hurricane Camille came through in August of 1969, Ernie made the move up to the Sandhills to work as a ranch hand.
On May 15, 1971 Ernie met Janice Kay Van Rossum at the Legion in Gordon, NE. They married on Thanksgiving Day on November 25, 1971. Ernie and Janice spent 50 years together, and from their union came two children, and two grandchildren.
Ernie’s main occupation in life was truck driving for over 35 years. He was also a man of many hobbies and interests. He loved spending time outdoors fishing, hunting, trapping, collecting rocks, and camping. He often spent time traveling on his motorcycle and creating memories with friends. One of his favorite memories on his motorcycle was traveling the entirety of the Trail of Tears. He enjoyed working on cars, and restoring his 1951 Ford Victoria. Ernie also enjoyed being creative and making various things such as his silverware jewelry. He was a fan of attending his grandchildren’s school and sporting events.
Ernie was preceded in death by his parents; sister Barbara Nutt of TN; foster parents James & Virginia Korf of KS; foster siblings Pat Hare of CA, Tula Strasburger of ID, James Lee Korf of CO, Bill Korf of CO; sister in law LaVetta Korf of NE; brother in law Richard Smith of KS.
Mr. Ernie Bigelow is survived by his wife, Janice Kay (Van Rossum) Bigelow of Gordon, NE; two children, Vannicea Renee Bigelow (Patrick Dettloff) of Gordon, NE and James Justus Bigelow of North Platte, NE; two grandchildren, Brittnie Renae Bigelow of Minneapolis, MN and Trevar Allen Bigelow of Whitman, NE; siblings, Ellen (Earl) Dugger of TN, Huldah Jane (Juan) Bowden of AL, Louis (Mareann) Bigelow of WA, brother in law James Nutt of TN; aunt, Marie Bigelow of IA; foster mother, Norma Halverson of NE; foster siblings, Les Hare of NE, Cliff Korf of NE, Nina (Vaughn) Nash of KS, Ina Smith of KS, Dinah (Rob) Eden of KS, and sister in laws Gail Korf of CO & Mary Korf of OK; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Memorial services will be held Wednesday, July 21, 2021, 11:00 AM at Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, Gordon, NE. The family suggests memorials to the Gordon Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, or the Merriman Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad and donations may be sent in care of Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, PO Box 366, Gordon, NE 69343.
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