John Raymond Bigelow
John Raymond Bigelow, Jr.
Born March 8, 1939, Passed Away December 7, 2023
John was born to Madeline Mary Venn and John Ray Bigelow in Toledo, OH. He was welcomed by older sisters Jeanne Francis Bigelow (Deneau) and Joan Rae Bigelow (Pipitone). His father worked in furniture retail business – first in major department stores and later in his own stores in Wauseon, OH and Hemet, CA. John attended Catholic grade schools in Cincinnati and Columbus, OH and graduated from Wauseon High School in 1956. John played football and made lifelong friends in Wauseon, attended several reunions and stayed close with many for over 60 years. He remained especially close to Ty Rupp of Rossford, OH and Jim Fernamberg of Devil’s Lake, Michigan. John was greatly saddened when Jim passed away earlier this year.
John attended Notre Dame University in South Bend, IN for two years majoring in Spanish. He was a lifelong Notre Dame football fan. He transferred from Notre Dame to the University of CA in Riverside in 1959 when his parents started a furniture store in Hemet, CA. John played football and rugby and studied Spanish at UCR. He wisely changed his major to business administration and transferred again to Cal Poly Pomona where he excelled in his studies. He completed a bachelor’s degree in 1962 and married Mary Jean Attride. They lived in Riverside, CA and had three sons. John and Mary Jean later divorced.
John served in the Army Reserves from 1962 to 1968. In 1963, he began a long career with Autonetics in Anaheim, CA. While at Autonetics (later Rockwell International) John worked on Minuteman I, II and III, Navy projects and the Peacekeeper Rail Garrison program, primarily in the fields of contracts and pricing, and procurement. His sons remember his commitment to always showing up at their events even if it meant going to work at 3 AM in order to do so. As a father, he served as a leader in the YMCA’s Indian Guides and was a loved voice with runners on a cross-country team. He also took his sons on many summer trips to northern CA where they enjoyed waterskiing and camping. John spent much of his youth around water – life guarding at the municipal pool and waterskiing with friends at Devil’s Lake. He shared his love for waterskiing with his sons on many family vacations. He once owned a bright yellow ski boat.
John met his future wife Susan (Fuller/Kennedy) at a company Christmas party on December 15, 1990. They married in June 1991 in Loma Linda, CA. John and Susan made a bold move in 1992, volunteering for layoffs during a time of downsizing in the defense industry, and moving to Susan’s hometown of Spearfish, SD. John held several positions while living in Spearfish including managing a motel/casino/café in Deadwood and managing a motel in Spearfish. John also took up the game of golf and enjoyed downhill skiing and snowmobiling. John loved the snow and winter sports. He also considered snow-blowing a winter sport.
In 1995, John and Susan moved to Gillette, WY where John worked for St. Matthew’s Catholic Church as the owner’s representative for the construction of the Family Life Center. He also worked for S&S Construction. John refereed high school football and thoroughly enjoyed the Gillette crew. Heart surgery in 2003 brought John’s active employment to an end. John was more than willing to pull up stakes and move for Susan’s job changes so in 2006 they moved to Sheridan, WY where they decided to remain indefinitely.
John served in several public service roles including on the Campbell County Fire Board and the Sheridan City Council. John pursued a life of service and in 2007 he entered the formation program for the permanent deaconate. He was ordained on May 15, 2012 and actively served at Holy Name Catholic Church until 2019. Serving God and His people as a deacon brought John great joy and personal enrichment. He also enjoyed serving on the Salvation Army Advisory Council.
He is preceded in death by his mother, father, two sisters, and their husbands. He is survived by his wife Susan, sons John III (Janis) Bigelow, Jim (Marti) Bigelow, Greg (Jennifer) Bigelow, stepson Russell (Heidi) Kennedy, stepdaughter Kristi (Matt) Myers, grandchildren Marilyn Kennedy, Joel Kennedy, Parker Kennedy, Carly Kennedy, Liam Kennedy, Paul Bigelow, Daniel (Jocelyn) Bigelow, Connor Bigelow, Sydney Bigelow, Alex Myers, Daniel Myers, and Katelyn Myers, and great-grandsons Otis Kokesh and Bonez Kokesh. His extended family included brother-in-law Tom Fuller, sister-in-law Barb (Rob) Troxel, and many nieces and nephews.
John loved his wife Susan, his family, and God. Vacations were almost always plans to visit family. He was an advocate for social justice seeking solutions to meet people’s basic needs often speaking out in favor of low-income housing and social services at the community level. John was active in the Catholic church, baptized in Toledo, OH first communion in Cincinnati, OH confirmed in Columbus, OH and ordained in Cheyenne, WY. He served as an altar server for many years, learning all the responses in Latin. Served as singer, lector, Eucharistic Minister, committee member and Parish Finance Council Chair.
In addition to heart disease and cancer, John was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in 2017. He outlived the prognosis by several years. He lived a full life and was hoping for one more motorhome trip to visit family and sightsee in 2024. He had gracefully given up the driver’s seat and enjoyed co-piloting with his beloved dog Migo. His condition worsened recently and after a fairly short stay at Sheridan Memorial Hospital, he passed away during the night with his wife in the room with him.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to the Holy Name Thrift Store Building Fund, 9 South Connor Street, Sheridan, WY 82801.
Rosary will be held on Saturday, December 9, 2023 at 9:30 am at Holy Name Catholic Church. Memorial Mass will begin at 10:00 am with Father Glenn Whewell officiating. A reception will follow in the parish hall. Inurnment with Military Honors will take place in the summer
Kane Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.