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Emeritus Admissions Dean Dead at 75


July 03, 2003 :: No. 6

Ralph E. Bigelow
Ralph E. Bigelow

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Ralph E. Bigelow, Cal State Fullerton emeritus dean of admissions and records, and former musical director of Bones West, an Orange County trombone ensemble specializing in big band sounds, died June 26 of an aneurysm.

He was 75.

A Placentia resident since 1966, Bigelow spent 17 years at the Fullerton campus, 15 as dean of admissions and records, before leaving to serve six years at the California State University Chancellor’s Office as director of analytical studies. Following his retirement in 1989, Bigelow returned to the Fullerton campus to serve as coordinator for academic appeals.

Prior to joining the Fullerton staff in 1966, he was registrar at Cal State Northridge for six years.

In a letter to Bigelow upon his retirement, CSUF President Jewel Plummer Cobb wrote “ . . . this campus will continue to have a deep affection for you. Many of us here have recognized and appreciated your constant devotion to the success of this university. You can be very proud of the many fine contributions you have made to assure its continuing growth and prosperity during your 23 years of service at both the Fullerton campus and the Chancellor’s Office.”

A longtime trombone player, Bigelow was a former chair of the Weekend Warriors Committee of the International Trombone Association and a member of the Moravian Trombone Choir of the Moravian Church of Downey. The Bones West group performed at colleges, hospitals, trade shows, outdoor concerts and Christmas shows, in addition to many events at Cal State Fullerton.

He was very active in campus emeriti activities following retirement, and served as president of the Emeriti Organization and as newsletter editor, secretary, treasurer and representative to the CSU Emeriti Retired Faculty Association. He had also served as newsletter editor for the statewide organization. He was honored by the university as one of the Volunteers of the Year for 2000 for his work with the emeriti.

Beyond education and music, Bigelow’s interests included cribbage, rare books and poker. He served as the tournament director of the annual championship tournament of the International Cribbage Association and was a longtime pug owner.

In 1983, he was one of 20 American educators selected as a recipient of a Senior Fulbright Award, through which he spent 25 days in Germany conferring with colleagues at institutions of higher learning.

Born in West Covina, Bigelow received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Rochester and a doctorate from USC.

He is survived by his son Lars, of Fullerton; daughter Jane Lavender, of Manteca; sister Mildred Bigelow, of Ft. Mojave, Ariz.; and five grandchildren.
Funeral services were private. A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. July 26 at the Fullerton Arboretum. The family has asked that instead of flowers, memorial donations be sent to the CSUF Pollak Library, Fullerton Arboretum or Pug Rescue, an organization that provides homes to pug dogs, at (626) 795-3944. On behalf of his father, Lars Bigelow requests that you give someone you love a hug.

Media Contact: Dave Reid, Public Affairs, 657-278-4855 or dreid@fullerton.edu

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