James Edward Bigheart, III
June 20, 1940 – May 22, 2020
James (“Ed” or “Scurvy”) Edward Bigheart III, Wah-Zha-Zhi (Osage), of Edmond, Oklahoma, passed away on May 22, 2020 after a courageous battle with cancer. Ed was born in Pawhuska, Oklahoma on June 20, 1940 to James Edward Bigheart II and Wilma Juanita (Rutherford) Bigheart.
Ed spent the majority of his childhood in Pawhuska but briefly lived in New Mexico. He valued hard work, and one of his first jobs was shining shoes in downtown Albuquerque when he was only in the second grade. He attended Seneca Indian Boarding School and graduated from Pawhuska High School in 1958. At the young age of fifteen, he enlisted in the National Guard and later attended Officer Cadet School, graduating as an L1. Additionally, Ed worked for a season in Montana where he fought forest fires on an all-Indian fire brigade.
Recognizing the power of higher education, Ed was the first in his family to attend college, and he attended the University of Oklahoma where he was a member of the Sequoyah Club. He later attended Central State College in Edmond, Oklahoma. While attending CSC, he met his wife, Janet Wright, to whom he was happily married for 54 years. The couple made Edmond their home, where they raised five children. After graduating, Ed worked as a pharmaceutical representative for Burroughs Welcome Co. His generosity, quick wit, and acceptance of everyone made him a close friend and mentor to many. After retiring at 55, he enjoyed golfing, traveling, and devoting time to his family.
Ed’s family was truly the light of his life, and he was happiest when surrounded by his five children, thirteen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He was a proud member of the Osage Nation and was a devoted student of his tribal language. He received the Osage name Wah-she-wah-ha, which translates to “great courage,” a quality he possessed and vividly displayed during his final months of life.
He is preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Edward Bigheart and Cecelia Rattlingourd; his maternal grandparents, William Rutherford and Ara Lawson; and his parents, Juanita Rutherford and Ed Bigheart. He is survived by his wife, Janet Wright Bigheart; his brother, Billie Joe Bigheart, and his sister, Lahonda Jane Larson; his daughter, Deidre Yerbic and husband Jim; his son James Edward “Eddie” Bigheart the IV and wife Susan; son Lance Bigheart; son John Bigheart and wife Shannon; daughter Meredith Seagraves and husband John; thirteen grandchildren, Annawake and husband Jake, Kyle, Alec, Beau and fiancé Cori, Brandon, Brady, Emma, Mari, Michael and wife Ashley, Austin, Jacob, Stella, and Rachel and five great-grandchildren, Connor, AJ, Kathryn, Harper, and Nyia; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
Visitation will take place from 12:30 PM to 1:45 PM on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at Oak Hills Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, followed by a service 2:00 PM.