Ernie Bigelow – UPDATED

Memorial services for 75-year old Ernie Bigelow of Merriman, NE, are Wednesday, July 21, 2021 at 11:00 AM at Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home in Gordon, NE

Ernie passed away on July 16, 2021, at his home. He was 75.

A memorial has been established for the Gordon Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad or the Merriman Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad. Donations may be sent in care of Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, PO Box 366 Gordon, NE 69343.

Online condolences may be left at www.chamberlainchapel.com

Ernest Lewis Bigelow was born on March 7, 1946 in Seattle, WA, and 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. 

The 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 and that loved him as their own.

Ernie enlisted in the United States Army on April 10, 1963, at the age of 17 and he later received his GED through the Army. After basic training at Ft. Polk, LA, he attended supply school there in the 4th Training Regiment. 

In August of 1963, PFC Bigelow was assigned to the 70th Medical Dept APO 219, in France. In June of 1965, he was assigned to the 69th Transportation Co. in Heidelberg, Germany. That September, he was crowned winner in a national pistol shooting match and 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 – starting with the 11th Armored Cavalry on December 14, 1966. 

While in Vietnam, Ernie was part of two operations; Cedar Falls and Junction City. He was then assigned to an advisory team called the “Mountain Yards.” 

Ernie received the Army Commendation Medal for his heroic acts in 1967 during a specialist’s operation. A year later, he was 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, but due to injuries suffered in the war, he was discharged on April 9, 1969.

Ernie received three Purple Heart Awards for courageous service during his time in Vietnam.

After coming home from Vietnam, Ernie spent time in Biloxi, MS, working on shrimp and fish boats, while 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, and they married a little over 7 months later on Thanksgiving Day, November 25. Ernie and Janice spent 50 years together and from their union came two children and two grandchildren.  

Ernie’s main occupation was truck driver, which he pursued 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. 

Ernie enjoyed working on cars and restoring his 1951 Ford Victoria, but 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.

Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home of Gordon is in charge of arrangements for Ernie Bigelow.

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