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Bernice Aletta Bigham

Bernice Aletta Bigham

Bernice Aletta Bigham died last Wednesday at Suttle Care and Retirement in Pendleton. She was 72 years old. She will be remembered by her family and many friends as a loving and generous person. Bernice was born on January 30, 1934 in Medford, Oregon, to one of the pioneering families of Jackson County. Her parents were Elbert and Laura Bigham of Eagle Point. Youngest of three children, Bernice was raised on the family dairy farm with her older sister, Della Belle Bigham (Patton) and brother, Dale Elbert Bigham. Bernice participated in the demanding work of a dairy farm and enjoyed ranch life. She was active in 4H and spent her spare time doing a variety of crafts. She played fast-pitch softball for the Dairy Maids in summer where she made several life-long friends.

Bernice graduated from Eagle Point High School in 1952. She was a clerk at the Jackson County Court House for several years until she returned to school. She alone of her siblings attended college. After one year at Southern Oregon College at Monmouth, she transferred to the University of Oregon where she graduated in 1959 with a B.S. in Physical Education. She then got her Masters in Physical Education from California Polytechnical Institute in San Luis Obispo, California.

Miss Bigham taught in the junior high and high schools at Monterey, California for several years but spent summers in Jackson County working on the farm and playing softball until 1972. She was an instructor at Cal Poly when Blue Mountain Community College recruited her in 1970 to teach physical education and to coach their new women's sports program. She coached basketball, volleyball, track, and tennis at BMCC from 1971 until 1984. Her coaching success brought numerous regional titles especially in volleyball and basketball. She coached the 1976 volleyball team to a 36-8 record and to sixth place in the nationals. Many Pendleton citizens will fondly remember her classes in conditioning, aquatic fitness, and cross-country skiing.

Bernice's contributions to women's athletics were honored by selection to the Roll of Honor of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges in 1993.

She was a member of the Pendleton Country Club and the Oregon Women's Golf Association and served in leadership positions in both of these organizations. Her favorite hobbies, besides golf, were traveling, camping (especially in an RV), and spending time with her family and her many friends.

Miss Bigham is survived by her brother, Dale, and his wife, Barbara; nephews, Bob Patton of Tigard, Rick Patton of Roseburg, Steve Bigham and his wife, Lori, of Reno, Nevada; and two great-nephews, Jeff and Matt Bigham of Reno. She also leaves long-time friends Gayle Blek, of Pendleton and Mo Schollian of Salem, OR. Her parents and her sister Della preceded her in death.

Disposition was by cremation. There will be a memorial service at the Church of God in Pendleton at 11:00 am on Monday, May 22. The family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Blue Mountain Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 100, Pendleton, OR 97801, and designated for the Bernice Bigham Women's Athletic Scholarship.