Weldon D. Bigony, 96, passed away in Waco, Texas, on Aug. 10, 2016. |
The family will receive friends from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016, at Myers and Smith Funeral Home. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m., Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, at First United Methodist Church of Big Spring with Pastor Bill Ivins officiating. Burial will follow at Trinity Memorial Park.
He was born May 23, 1920, at Ben Franklin, Texas; the son of the late Dorsey and Bessie (McClanahan) Bigony. Weldon was a standout athlete at Big Spring High School and received a football scholarship to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he attended from 1938 to 1941. Weldon played football for the Baylor Bears, and in the fall of 1941 he helped his team tie the University of Texas, then the number-one ranked team in the nation. He left Baylor following the attack on Pearl Harbor, just six months short of graduation, to serve his country, and enlisted in the U.S. Naval Air Corps. After training in single- and multi-engine military aircraft, he was stationed in Shanghai, China from April to August, 1946.
Following his discharge from the service on Aug. 17, 1946, in Shanghai, he flew briefly for Greater China Aviation Corporation before joining CNRAA Air Transport (later renamed Civil Air Transport, or CAT) in October 1946, which was founded by General Claire Chennault of Flying Tiger fame. Initially formed to fly United Nations relief supplies into China's hinterland following the end of the Second World War, Civil Air Transport flew in support of the Chinese Nationalists against the Chinese Communists during the Chinese civil war. While flying with CAT in mainland China, Weldon met Amalie Harpfinger. They were married on June 11, 1949, in Canton, China. Following the fall of mainland China in 1949 to the Communists, Weldon and Amalie evacuated to Taipei, Taiwan, where they raised their three children and Weldon continued flying for CAT.
In 1950, as the Cold War erupted, the CIA secretly acquired CAT to conduct its clandestine air operations throughout Southeast Asia. While carrying out such operations, CAT continued to fly regularly scheduled commercial flights, providing the CIA with the perfect cover. Air America was also a part of the CIA's clandestine air operations in Southeast Asia, and Weldon was often called to fly for it. After 28 years of flying for CAT and Air America, Weldon joined Air Jamaica in 1974 before retiring at the age of 61.
In 2002, at the age of 82, Weldon returned to Baylor to complete his final year of degree study--on his 60-plus-year-old football scholarship. Just one week shy of his 83rd birthday, Weldon graduated before 10,000 cheering classmates and families on May 17, 2003.
A lifetime athlete, Weldon ran his first marathon at the age of 60.He also competed in the 2003, 2005 and 2007 Senior Games, winning either a gold, silver or bronze medal in each race-walking event he competed in. He was inducted into the Baylor University's Hall of Fame's Wall of Honor in 2006. Weldon was a loyal supporter of Baylor athletics, a familiar figure at football, basketball, tennis and baseball games, a member of the Baylor Lettermen's Club and Baylor Heritage Club, and a frequent volunteer at Baylor athletic events.
Most important, Weldon was a devoted child of God and a member of First United Methodist Church of Big Spring and Grace Church in Waco. He was a long-time student of the Bible and frequently spoke to his children, neighbors, Baylor students and prisoners about his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
Weldon was the eldest of six children. He was preceded in death by his dear wife Amalie, and four of his sisters, Rita Mae (Bigony) Spradling, Myra Lee (Bigony) Pierson, Dorothy Bigony, and Frances (Bigony) Puckett.
He is survived by his three children, Marc Wayne D. Bigony of Seattle, Wash., and twins Bruce Alan Bigony of Altadena, Calif., and Vicky May (Bigony) Peters of Golinda, Texas; his three grandchildren, Michelle Jennifer Bigony of Philadelphia, Pa., and Schanayde Amalie Bigony and Schiang Christopher Bigony, both of Seattle, Wash.
Also missing Weldon are daughter-in-law Mary Frances Bigony of Altadena, Calif., and James C. Peters of Golinda, Texas.
Arrangements are by Myers and Smith Funeral Home. Pay your respects online at www.myersandsmith.com
Published in Big Spring Herald on Aug. 14, 2016