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James P. Bigelow, 74

ADAMS, Mass. — Mr. James Paul Bigelow, 74, of 430 East Housatonic St., Dalton, formerly of Adams, died suddenly at home on Friday, June 26, 2020.

Born in Adams on June 6, 1946, the son of the late George and Patricia (Sokolowski) Bigelow, he attended school in Adams, including St. Stanislaus Kostka Elementary School, and was a 1964 graduate of Adams Memorial High School, where he played baseball and basketball. He was a proud recipient of the James Urquhart Memorial Trophy. Jim earned a bachelor of science in biology in 1968 from North Adams State College, where he played both basketball and baseball, and earned a master's degree in education in 1973. While a senior in college, he coached the McCann boys’ basketball team.

Mr. Bigelow began his teaching career at St. Joseph’s High School in Pittsfield, where he taught biology from 1968 to 1970, and coached the golf team. During this time, he also taught a biology class at Belfontaine Seminary in Lenox. He joined the Adams Cheshire Regional School District in 1970 as a science teacher, a position he held until his 2003 retirement. He was famous or infamous for the yearly plant project where students collected, identified, and mounted 100 plants. He believed this project, done in the last several weeks of the school year, was an example of life-long learning, and it became very special to him. He also coached both JV and varsity boys basketball at Hoosac Valley for several years.

Following his retirement, Jim enjoyed spending time with his family, traveling, mushrooming, watching the Boston Red Sox and golfing, sinking his first hole-in-one in Florida earlier this year. Gardening was a special talent and over the years he grew various vegetables, had peach, pear, and apple trees, raspberries and strawberries. Hanging plants and flower gardens flourished under his green thumb, and caring for his garden and plants was always a labor of love.

He is survived by his wife, Sally L. Bigelow née Tetlow, his life and golf partner, whom he married on June 17, 1967; his son Christopher James Bigelow and daughter-in-law Ebru Kardan of Northampton; his daughter Jenna Elise Bigelow and her fiancé Nick Deary of Woburn; three sisters-in-law, Marie Bigelow, Jane Brown, and Lisa Tetlow; brothers-in-law Robert Tetlow and Stephen Brown; and many nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by two brothers, George and Robert Bigelow; and by his sister Dorothy Russett.

Funeral notice: A graveside service will be held under a small tent on Monday, July 6, 2020, at 11 a.m. in Bellevue Cemetery, Adams. Due to current restrictions, all attending are required to wear a face covering and social distance as best as possible. The family requests you express your care by refraining from hugs and wishes everyone to understand they sincerely appreciate how you feel.

The family intends to have a celebration of life at a later date once restrictions are lifted. There are no calling hours. Memorial donations may be made to the James P. Bigelow Scholarship Fund at Hoosac Valley High School, which will be established for students pursuing a degree in the sciences, through the PACIOREK FUNERAL HOME, 13 Hoosac St., Adams, MA 01220, or through GoFundMe at To leave a message of condolence, please go online to

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Recollections & Sympathy For the Family
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Dear Sally and family,
I am very sorry for your loss. It was heartwarming to read all the loving comments posted by his students and families.
from: Anne Gagnonon: 07-05-2020

The Bigelows were both two of the best teachers I ever had. Will miss Mr. Bigelow and my condolences to the rest of the family especially Mrs. Bigelow.
from: Jarrod Cafaroon: 07-03-2020

To the entire Bigelow family, my sincere condolences. Mr. Bigelow was an insightful teacher with a kind smile and beautiful blue eyes. In 7th grade, I didn't like having to find 100 different plants and look up their botanical names. But, going around gathering the plants, building a plant press, pressing each plant carefully really helped me appreciate the diversity of life in my backyard and neighborhood. My grandmother helped me with it and so, this project created beautiful memories for me, which as an adult, I am so grateful for.
Mr. Bigelow was always encouraging and had a calm, nurturing presence I could relate to. I have no doubt that it was he, who initially inspired my desire to later pursue graduate studies in horticulture and garden design.
Just like the water cycle he taught us, a cloud never dies; it just transforms. "The cloud that was in the sky earlier may seem to have disappeared, but if we look deeply, we see that the same elements that made up the cloud have now become rain, mist, or even snow." (Thich Nhat Hanh) The true nature of Mr. Bigelow, like the cloud, is still there, existing in new forms... His love and energy are still with us, and I am so grateful to have known him.

from: Mindy Dowon: 07-01-2020

Sally, I am very sad to learn of Jim's passing. Jim was a great person, a true gentlemen, and like his brothers a great athlete. I was fortunate to have him as a teammate through out high school, as well as knowing both of you as friends personally.
Sally and family, please accept my deepest sympathy and condolences.
Billy Senecal
from: Billy Senecalon: 07-01-2020

Sally, I am saddened to learn of Jim's passing. Jim was a great person, true gentlemen, and like his brothers a great athlete. I was fortunate to have him as a teammate through out high school, as well as knowing both of you as friends personally.
Sally and Family, please accept my deepest sympathy and condolences.
Billy Senecal
from: Billy Senecalon: 07-01-2020

Deepest condolences to all the family. I learned so much when my children were in his class.
from: Mary Royon: 07-01-2020

Mr. Bigelow was right about that plant project. It's one of my best memories. When I see the first Red Trillium or Jack -in -the -Pulpit in the spring I think of that project and Mr. Bigelow.
My condolences to Mrs. Bigelow and family.
from: Lisa Paquinon: 06-30-2020

Sally and family, I was so very sorry to hear of Jim's passing. You were both great teachers to work with.
from: Shirley (Hartwig) Fachinion: 06-30-2020

so sad to hear this news, he was such a nice fellow, he was my JV basketball coach in 1972 and always treated us fairly, he was also a teacher of mine, whenever I saw him later in life when I came back to Adams, he always had kind words and a gentle smile.
from: tim Austinon: 06-30-2020

He was my favorite science teacher at Hoosac Valley High. He will be missed, and condolences to his wife and family.
from: R.L.on: 06-30-2020

Jim was a friend growing up. We often competed against each other playing basketball and baseball. At AHS we were basketball teammates for 3 years. He was an excellent athlete and always exhibited great sportsmanship. I am saddened to learn of his passing.

Sally, please accept my condolences.
from: Bill Iacuessaon: 06-30-2020

Mr. Bigelow was an incredible teacher and overall great man. My deepest condolences to Sally, Chris, Jenna, and the entire family. ❤
from: Jenn O'Neillon: 06-30-2020

We were so sad to hear of Jim's passing. He was a true gentleman and a dedicated teacher. We are sending prayers to the Berkshires.
from: Jim and Carol Robinsonon: 06-30-2020

I have fond memories of Mr. Bigelow and the infamous plant project. It counted for a good percentage of our grade for the year so I was so nervous. Almost every year someone would bring in Poison Ivy even though he warned us many many times. One time I believe someone even brought in a Lady slipper, even though he again, warned us many times. Wonderful and patient man. You could see the respect and love Mr. and Mrs. Bigelow have and this was in the 80's. Years later I would see them occasionally, and that beautiful spark was still shining bright. I am very sorry for your loss Mrs Bigelow, and to your entire family and friends. That picture is exactly how I remember him. God bless you all. Rest peacefully Mr. Bigelow, you will be missed by so many. 🙏🙏❤💕🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹💖💕🙏🙏
from: Bridget Montgomeryon: 06-30-2020

Mrs. Bigelow and family, I'm so very sorry for your loss. Mr. Bigelow was a wonderful man/teacher who made a difference in many people's lives.
from: Trina Farnamon: 06-30-2020

Sorry to hear of his passing, he was one of my favorite teachers. Now I know where that pressed plant book came from.( I just threw it away this year) Still love gardening and learning about plants. Thanks
from: Betty l.on: 06-30-2020

I'm so sorry to hear of Jim's passing. Having known him since Little League, I always found Jim to be one of the "nice guys." While we lost touch during our adult lives, I have fond memories of our childhood friendship. I am proud to have called him friend...
from: Skeets Richardson: 06-30-2020

We were so saddened to hear of Jim's sudden passing.
Sending sympathy and strength to the Bigelow family.
from: Mike and Linda Bassion: 06-30-2020

Sally and Family, So sorry for your loss. I canít tell you the number of times Iíve thought about or talked about that plant project since high school. Just recently I was out for a walk and smelled balsam poplar in the air. It brought me right back to the plant project, walking through the woods with my dad, searching for our bonus plants (including a royal fern!). That school experience taught me a love of nature and the environment and led to my current career. Few teachers have had such an impact.
from: Sue Batoron: 06-29-2020

Me. Bigelow gave us the magical gift of nature! He made it an adventure to seek out multiple maple trees, oaks and elms, and if you found the bonus Balsam Poplar, it was like winning the lottery! Thank you Mr. Bigelow, your memory will forever be in every jack in the pulpit and your legacy will live on in my children!
from: Cristy Salvi Campbell on: 06-29-2020

So sorry to hear this news. A life well lived. My boys ,and I'm sure many other former students, still retain the knowledge he gifted them with .
from: Christine Moyeron: 06-29-2020

Sad to see about Jim passing. Sally, you and your family are in our prayers.
from: Bill Kelsonon: 06-29-2020

So very sorry to hear of Jim's passing, my sincere condolences to Sally and her family,,he was a great guy and was well liked by his students and many friends..RIP my friend George Bob and Dorothy will be waiting to welcome you into our Lords kingdom..<3

from: eileen ziebaon: 06-29-2020

This is truly sad news.
To Sally and family my condolences.
I will always remember his smile and pleasant disposition.
I remember the science project with my son Evan.
RIP Jim in heaven and many more holes in one for you than plant projects!
God Bless
Bernie Pinsonnault
from: Bernard Pinsonnaulton: 06-29-2020

What sad news to read of Mr. Bigelow's passing. He was a fabulous teacher, and I was actually just talking about his plant project wuth my kiddos recently. 32 years later and there are still plants that I pass by and remember their names, and the great teacher who made that knowledge possible. Rest in peace sir!
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