Memorial services for local business and civic leader William Strickland “Bill” Bigham, 92, of Killeen, will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church. A private family burial service will be held at another time.
Mr. Bigham died June 30, 2013, in Temple. He was born March 30, 1921, in Gatesville to Tommie Clyde (Strickland) Bigham and Madison C. Bigham. He was one of 10 children and spent his early years living on Brown’s Creek, which is now part of Fort Hood.
When World War II began, the family’s land went to the military and they moved to Evant. He graduated from Waco High School before entering the U.S. Air Force during World War II and serving with the 20th Bomber Command on the Pacific island of Saipan. After the war ended, he returned to Waco to complete his business degree at Baylor University, where he served as president of the Nose Brotherhood and was the school’s number one badminton player for three years.
Mr. Bigham married Helen Marie Howard in Waco on Dec. 27, 1947. In 1950, they moved to Killeen, where they raised three daughters, Elizabeth Bigham Blackstone of Killeen, Mary Bigham Kliewer of Salado and Nancy Bigham Uzzel of Pflugerville. An insurance agent, in 1967 he founded what is now Bigham Kliewer Chapman and Watts Insurance Agency, and later co-founded the auto dealership that is today Patriot Buick-GMC.
He was committed to family, community, education and our military. Demonstrating his lifelong commitment to community growth and development, he served as president of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, Killeen Industrial Foundation, Killeen Area Investment Corporation and the Killeen Lions Club.
He received the Roy J. Smith Award from the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce in recognition of a lifetime of community service. He helped guide the growth of Killeen by serving on and chairing the Zoning Board for seven years and the Board of Adjustments and Appeals for three years. He held offices in the Killeen Welfare Agency, American Red Cross and the USO. He was a 32nd Degree Mason and a member of the Scottish Rites Bodies.
Mr. Bigham was a champion of education for his family and community, helping to open Central Texas College and serving as chairman of its Board of Trustees from 1965 until 1981. He was also chairman of the board for the American Educational Complex from 1976 until 1981. He was always very proud of his role in the expansion of college educational opportunities in this area.
He continued his support of the military throughout his life. He was a life member and past commander of the American Legion J.Q. Adams Post 223. He held a life membership and was active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was a member of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), serving as president of the local Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter in 1959 and the State of Texas AUSA from 1961 until 1962.
He often attended the national convention and was a member of its National Resolutions Committee in 1961.
He loved sports, hunting, fishing, and gardening — and, as many know, he was a powerful dominoes player. He and Helen traveled and had many good friends with whom they enjoyed spending time. They were active in their church, where he served as senior warden for St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church and on its vestry during the 1960s. He will be missed by many who were blessed to know him.
Mr. Bigham was preceded in death by his wife, Helen; and his grandson, Phillip Uzzel.
Survivors include his three daughters; his son-in-law, Bill Kliewer; five grandchildren, William and Andrew Blackstone, Meredith and John Kliewer, and Jennifer Uzzel; and his sister, Mary Roberts of Gatesville.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Clements Boys & Girls Club, 304 W. Avenue B, Killeen, TX 76541 or the Helen and Bill Bigham Memorial Scholarship Fund Central Texas College Foundation, P.O. Box 1800, Killeen, TX 76540.
Crawford-Bowers Funeral Home in Killeen is in charge of arrangements.