Donald Bickford, 94, of Corning passed away Saturday, October 16, 2021 at Corning Specialty Care. Memorial Services will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions may be directed to Iowa PBS, 6535 Corporate Drive, P.O. Box 6400, Johnston, Iowa 50131. Memories and condolences can be left at www.pearsonfuneralhomes.com.
Donald Francis Bickford, the son of Lauren Irenus and Dorcas Anna (Runser) Bickford was born on October 5, 1927 at 9:15 a.m. 1 ½ mile east of Mt. Etna, Iowa. He was welcomed by three brothers: Kenneth, Russell and Hollis. In February of 1937 the family moved to the Bickford farm in Washington Township and he attended school in Mt. Etna to the 4th grade. Donald would then begin schooling at the Bickford School. Donald learned to swim when the family horse named “Old Dick” ran down to the river east of Mt. Etna. It was there they encountered a severe washout and with Hollis on the horse and Donald on Hollis’s shoulders they hit the washout and Hollis went under and Donald learned how to swim. Donald was very ill when he was ten years old. He had surgery on his right side for appendix removal, but this was wrong as the problem was on the left side – diverticulum, which was ten times larger and much more poisonous. Surgery was planned at Rochester, Minnesota, but on the way uncle Paul Bickford caught up with them and urged them to have the surgery in Des Moines. He was certain that the doctors in Des Moines were just as capable. In Des Moines, it was noted that as serious as he was, he would never have made it on to Rochester. Dad Lauren wanted to watch the surgery, but soon came out of the operating room, slid down and was sitting on the floor. The family would live for a short time in Tucson, Arizona where they had gone for Lauren’s health. Donald graduated from Corning High School with the class of 1945. Donald’s first car was a 1937 Chevy and later traded for a 1934 Coupe then a 1940 Ford. His first pickup was a 1936 Chevy and later traded for a 1951 Dodge.
After high school Donald farmed and joined the National Guard in 1947, the year of the big flood. He attended Radio School in Ft. Benning, Georgia from September 1950 to March 1951. He spent 7 years in the National Guard, leaving in 1954.
Donald married Colleen Moore on March 9, 1952. The couple lived on an 80-acre farm owned by Walter Howard in Washington township. From 1954 to 1956 Donald and Colleen lived on a farm in Jasper Township which was owned by Teresa Hogan. This is where Randy and Dave were born. In 1957 the family would live west of Prescott Township section 20 owned by Jess Everhart of Des Moines.
In 1958 Donald and Collen had a farm sale before loading their belongings and two little boys in a truck and car headed for California. Their destination was Inglewood to go to airplane mechanics School. On the Journey Donald left the truck at Chappels in Arizona and went on to look over the situation in California. He spent the night with cousins, Clara and Clay and determined that it was not the area for the family so they headed back and he enrolled in school at Union Airport in Lincoln, Nebraska. The family rented a house at 4030 Lewis Ave and Donald worked extra hours at the state capitol building as a janitor’s helper. During the year long course Donald got his pilot’s license and bought his first plane, a 1947 Taylorcraft. When school was over in the spring the family moved back to the farm. He then started and operated Bickford Aviation from 1959 to 1990. Donald recovered, rebuilt and everything related to an airplane as part of his business. He owned several planes, but his pride and joy was the 210 Cessna which he sold in 1997. He along with Darrell and Larry Thompson prepared many planes to be taken to Alaska.
In 1959 Donald also got back into farming. Cliff Houck offered a good deal on stock cows and Dale Harrison on Guernsey milk cows. On the farm he made sure the family had cows, hogs and chickens. A son, Larry was also born that year. Don was always proud of receiving the Century Farm designation in 1975. The farm was purchased by family member Eli Bickford on April 3, 1866.
Donald was a rural mail carrier for a time and a regular mail carrier for 10 years. He was the boy’s 4-H leader with Paul Hardisty. Donald served on the Corning School Board for five years. He and Don Templeton moved government grain bins that were stored in south Corning.
Donald dealt with many health issues including many joint replacements – both knees and one hip. After a serious bout with staph infection, he had a very long and serious surgery to handle the infection in all three joints. He spent nine weeks on IV’s, and a pic line. Most of this was handled here in the Corning Hospital. It was told by the surgeon that it was the surgeons first time handling all joints in one surgery, but it was the only way to get rid of the infection.
He and the family made several trips to California to visit relatives as well as Colorado, and Alaska. One trip to Alaska was hosted the Thompson family showing us sights and short trips that most people never got to see and do, such as jumping out of a float plane and fishing.
In 2001 Donald and Colleen sold the farm and moved to Corning at 406 11th street and in 2009 moved to 1110 6th street.
Donald was very fond of his campers, starting with a pickup with a topper, then later a pickup camper. He them moved on to a pull-type camper, then a motor home. However, their camper trips never took them too far from home due to chores on the farm. Don and Colleen enjoyed square dancing. They took lessons at Richland School and later at Carbon. While on the Square Dance Board several things were accomplished. They helped buy, remodel, and furnish the Wagon Wheel Corral in Corning. There were always fun times on New Year’s Eve, as well as all night fun at homes, including once at their home. It just so happened they had installed a gas furnace that day, but everything worked fine, having breakfast with the club, as usual. Many of their fun times were spent with Russell and Fern Brown.
Left to cherish Donald’s memory is his wife, Colleen Bickford of Corning; sons: Randall (Maggie) Bickford of Bettendorf, David (Debbie England) Bickford of Ralston, Nebraska and Larry (Penny Young) of Corning; grandchildren: Andy Bickford, Jessica Dietz, Michael Bickford and Amy Wierzbicki; great grandchildren: Ella, Caleb and Ben; sister-in-law, Linda Hughes of Corning; brother-in-law, Terry (Roxann) Moore and their family of Corning; many other relatives and friends.
Preceding Donald in death were his parents; mother and father-in-law, Louise and Carl Moore and brothers: Kenneth, Russell and Hollis Bickford.