Billy Jack Bigham was born in Wilson, Oklahoma, January 20, 1930, to
Sam & Edith Norris Bigham.
Bill was the oldest of four children, had aunts and uncles who loved him, and loved nothing more than playing with his dogs and toy tractors. He excelled in sports, playing football and running track. Most of his high school years were spent in California, where his father built ships for World War II. Returning to Wilson to finish high school, he immediately enlisted in the US Navy upon graduation.
During his Navy career he was assigned to duty in the South Pacific; the Naval recruiting station in Oklahoma City; US Embassy in Santiago, Chile; the Pentagon in Washington DC and the US Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal. It was during his assignment in Oklahoma City that he would meet the love of his life at a YWCA social event, Mary Jane Fennel. They were married July 6, 1957 at the First Christian Church in Oklahoma City.
In 1970, Bill retired from active duty and returned to Oklahoma. Bill remained in the reserve for a further seven years to fully retire with 30 years of service, at the rank of Master Chief. Throughout his career in the Navy, Bill was assigned 12 duty stations, served on seven warships; he attended six of the Navy’s specialist schools, and received 13 medals of commendation.
After returning to Oklahoma and settling in Edmond, Bill went to work for the Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission and also enrolled in Oklahoma City Southwestern College to obtain an advanced degree. Bill remained with the OESC for 30 years, retiring in 2000.
Bill loved to travel from a young age and although the Navy allowed him to visit 5 continents during his career, his job with the state of Oklahoma allowed him to travel throughout the United States taking Mary with him on many of his journeys. After leaving the state Bill & Mary continued to travel to new places, Alaska being one of his favorites. Up until 6 months ago he was still talking about making another trip to see the glaciers again.
Bill was also a 32nd Degree Property.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Mary Jane Fennel Bigham; his parents and two sisters, JoAnn Lawson and Rosemary Marshall.
He is survived by his son Craig and his wife Julie Edmond, his daughter Pam and her husband Marty Fulk of Oklahoma City, his grandson Cole Bigham of Houston, Texas and his brother Sammy Bigham of Durant, Oklahoma and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews .
The family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff at Iris Memory Care of Edmond, especially Ty & Heather; and the Frontier Hospice staff who looked after Bill as one of their own family until the end.
Funeral services will be held at Matthews Funeral Home in Edmond, Oklahoma at 11:00 am on Friday, December 9, 2022 with burial at 2:30 in Prague, Oklahoma. Viewing will be held on Thursday, December 8, 2022 from 12 pm – 7 pm with family present from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Posted online on December 05, 2022
Published in The Oklahoman