Ethel Sanford Bigham, age 99, of the Samantha community, passed away Tuesday, January 28, 2020, at her home. Services will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday, February 1, 2020, at Phillips Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, with Rev. Terrell Jones and Rev. Jerry Montgomery officiating and Magnolia Chapel North directing. The body will lie in state at the church from 10-11 A.M. prior to the service. Burial will follow in the church cemetery with Magnolia Chapel North directing.
She is preceded in death by her husband of 70 years, Grady Bigham; son, David Bigham; parents, Jeff and Eva Falls Sanford and Annie Spain Sanford; grand daughters, Margaret Logan Watson and Shannon LaGrone, and great-grandchildren Jason Swann, Ana-Jill Zaner, and Tyler Bigham; six sisters, Mae Hallman, Modie Keeth, Lillie Oswalt, Trannie Keith, Myrtie Lee Hallman, and Pearlie Duren; four brothers Early Sanford, Thomas Sanford, Junior Sanford, and Ernest Sanford; sons-in-law Morris Goins and Raymond LaGrone; daughter-in-law Angela Bigham; and grandson-in-law Mike Davis.
Survivors include son, Leon Bigham of Samantha; 8 daughters, Loretta Logan (Ben) of Fayette, Lorene Goins of Tuscaloosa, Martha Watson (Beryl), Carolyn Chism (Mike), and Sheila Rice (Bill), of Northport, Sharon O'Brien (Bob) of Birmingham, Linda LaGrone, and Judy Hicks (Bill) of Atlanta, Ga; 3 brothers James Sanford, Chester Sanford, and Nathan Sanford (Kathy) all of Northport; 2 sisters Florence Lashley (James) of Eutaw and Florene Galese (John) of Birmingham; 18 grandchildren, 51 great-grandchildren and 31 great- great-grandchildren; special caregivers Donna Dunn and Betty Gray, and special niece Cathy Rogers; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
She was born March 31, 1920 in Tuscaloosa County and has resided in the Samantha community for the past 59 years.
Our mother's life, centered on her love for God, revolved around her church family. Her motto was "trust God and live for him." And she did! She was a life-long member of Phillips Chapel Free Will Baptist, faithfully attending services until she broke her leg in 2015. Since then, she would go to sleep each night listening to gospel music.
Mom was dedicated to her husband and family. She worked alongside her late husband in the difficult life of cotton farming. It is impossible to count the many loads of cotton that she hauled to the gin. Despite working long hours, Mom and Dad always found time to visit the shut-ins and those in the hospital. Mom's favorite hobby was gardening- she loved growing things. She tended a very large vegetable garden to provide food and additional financial support for the family. She especially enjoyed working in her beautiful flower garden and feeding the birds. One might say she lovingly cultivated a large family, one that she showered with words of wisdom, love, and laughter.
Our mother cherished her late husband and was happiest when surrounded by her large, loving family. She always said that her "favorite child" was "all" of her children. She had a special love for all the babies in the family. She was a kind and gentle soul. She was dearly loved and will be deeply missed by all who knew her.
Active pallbearers will be sons-in-law Bill Rice, Bill Hicks, and Mike Chism; grandsons Russ LaGrone, Jeremy Bigham, Zach Chism, and Tim Watkins; and great-grandson Nicholas Davis.
Honorary pallbearers are friends and neighbors in the Phillips Chapel and Samantha communities.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Phillips Chapel Free Will Baptist Church Cemetery Fund.
To send flowers to Ethel's family, please visit our floral section.