Richard C. “Dick” Bigelow was born November 13, 1927 in Portland, the eldest son of Clive M. and Laura (Strong) Bigelow, and a fourth generation descendant of early Oregon pioneers Asa and Susannah (Johnson) Peterson. He passed quietly into the arms of Jesus his Savior January 31, 2020 at the age of 92.
Dick was raised and attended schools in what is now the Hawthorne area of Portland. He joined the Oregon State Guard at 16, where he excelled in marksmanship, and joined the US Army after graduating from Franklin High School in 1945. He was based in Seattle, where his duties included investigating court-martials and escorting prisoners across the U.S.
After his discharge, he enrolled at Oregon State College (OSU), where he met Marilyn Ann McLain. They were married July 9, 1950 in Brownsville. Their first home was in Bend where Mrs. Bigelow began her teaching career.
The couple lived and raised their four children in several communities throughout Oregon, including Wolf Creek, Burns, Garibaldi, Heppner, and Pilot Rock, but they loved Central Oregon and managed to spend much of their lives in Redmond, Terrebonne and Prineville. After Marilyn’s death, Dick lived for a time in Pilot Rock and Ontario, then returned to Prineville where he lived until moving to Awbrey Place in Bend in 2017 following a stroke.
Dick’s working career began as an elevator boy for Mr. Fred Meyer. He worked for the US Forest Service during his time at OSC as a wildland fire fighter. He worked in the trucking industry as a driver and a terminal manager for several companies including Safeway, Christensen Brothers, Bend Portland/Trans Western, Tillamook Creamery and JACO logging, where he also worked as a skidder operator. He also owned and operated a commercial fishing business. The entire family was involved in the construction of the Prineville First Baptist church building in Prineville.
In the early 1970’s Dick felt God’s call on his life to serve in church ministry, and enrolled at Western Seminary in Portland. Following his Bible training, he sought out ways to serve the local church wherever he was. The family returned to Prineville, where he worked for Orlie Austin building houses. They then moved to Heppner where he served as pastor of a small church in Lexington while working as a residential contractor. He then spent several years directing the Craftsmen for Christ arm of the Northwest Conservative Baptist Association, building and remodeling churches throughout Oregon and Washington.
After retiring from Craftsmen, the Bigelow’s once again returned to Prineville, where Dick served as interim pastor at Paulina in addition to the couple’s involvement with FBC Prineville. In the late 90’s Dick & Marilyn moved to Pilot Rock, and he served in various preaching capacities at churches in Pendleton, Pilot Rock, Ontario, Ukiah and Weiser, ID. One of the chief highlights of his life was traveling to Russia, where he spent several weeks working with Russian pastors and getting to know some of the families there.
Over the decades of his life he pursued interests in shooting, hunting, fishing, farming, cooking, water skiing, scuba diving, golf and flying. He also embraced Marilyn’s love of horses, becoming part of both Redmond & Terrebonne Saddle Clubs, leading a 4-H Horse club and Drill Team, helping rancher friends and team roping with his friend, Everett Thornburgh.
Dick is survived by his four children: Elly (Rich) Reynolds of Prineville, Carol (Gary) Thompson of Oregon City, Clive (fiancée Caprice Plaep) of Powell Butte, and Darryl (Claudia) of Hillsboro; ten grandchildren; twenty-eight great grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; and a host of dear friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a grandson, Kevin Bigelow; his wife, Marilyn; sister, Delores Dewey and brother, Dr. Ron Bigelow.
A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church, conducted – at his request – by his grandchildren, Friday, February 14 at 2 pm.
Public viewing will be held on Thursday, February 13, 4-6 pm at Prineville Funeral Home. Private interment will be at Beaver Creek Cemetery in Paulina.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the American Cancer Society in Memory of Dick Bigelow. Donations can be mailed to ACS, 2350 Oakmont Way, Suite 200, Eugene OR 97401.
The family wishes to acknowledge the staff of Awbrey Place and Heart ’n Home Hospice, who helped all of us as they kindly cared for Dad in his last days.
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