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In tribute: Matriarch remembered for her devotion

Verna “Polly” Bigler cleaned relatives’ kitchens when they weren’t home, kept track of daily events on her family’s farm and kept her Christian faith through her battle with cancer, her daughter, Jackie Clark, said.

Bigler, 86, died of cancer Saturday.

She and her husband of 64 years, Ishmel “Panny” Bigler, raised two children and one of their three grandchildren on their farm near Melrose. From the family farm near Melrose, Bigler was involved in church, the Floyd Jamboree and the Busy Fingers Club.

Bigler always wanted to be a nurse and was before her marriage, said Jackie Clark, her daughter. Then, Bigler became a devoted farmer’s wife.

“She worked out in the field a lot alongside my daddy most of those years,” Clark said.

Bigler continued to nurse the ailments of people she knew. After her husband was disabled in a farming accident in 1990, Bigler took care of him.

Until a few months before her death, most evenings Bigler made notes about the day’s events — such as weather, grocery shopping and national news. Neighbors would ask her about when a certain event happened, and the newspaper would call to get rainfall totals.

“She was a real historian,” Clark said.

Bigler also kept scrapbooks for the Floyd Jamboree.

Clark remembers her mother as a “gentle monarch.” Although she never yelled or lost her temper, her children knew her expectations and tried to please her.

To her daughter and granddaughters, Clark said, Bigler was a best friend, adviser and supporter. If one of the younger women complained of a dirty kitchen with no time to clean it, she would come home to find that Bigler had made the place spotless.

“If she could help your life be better, that’s what she strived to do,” Clark said.

Bigler was a strong Christian who, when asked about her favorite Bible verse, said she liked them all.

“We did a lot of praying and praising God,” Clark said.

Bigler loved the holidays, in particular Easter.

“Even when the kids were grown, we always had Easter egg hunts,” Clark said.

With the Busy Fingers Club, Bigler and other women from the area met once a month to have lunch, help someone in need, paint each others’ houses and so on for about 40 years. The women performed an opening skit at the Floyd Jamboree for several years, Clark said.

“She enjoyed her home and her family, and she was content with that part of her life,” Clark said.

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