Tisdale Pallbearers Leave Lasting Image

Saturday, May 23rd 2009, 5:04 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- About 4000 fans, family and friends paid tribute to Tulsa legend Wayman Tisdale on Thursday.

One of the more enduring images came when the casket entered the BOK center. Leading the way was a pallbearer holding high an NBA basketball.

"That was Wayman's NBA ball," said Keith Biglow with Biglow Funeral Home. "That was his; it wasn't ours."

Biglow was the man behind the service. He's known the Tisdale family for several years and wanted to conduct the perfect celebration of Wayman's life.

The pallbearers swayed to the melody while carrying the 925-pound casket on their shoulders.

"A lot of people call that dancing, but it's really not dancing," Biglow said. "It's more of a march."

Biglow says the 10 men are a combination of his employees and friends from a funeral home in Dallas.

The team practiced more than six hours before Tisdale's funeral, working to stay in rhythm while carrying the solid bronze casket.

Biglow says his funeral home offers the same service to other families but being able to provide it for a Tulsa icon while his band welcomed him into the service was awe-inspiring.

"The guys were all honored," he said. "And they all stepped up to the challenge and they knew that would be meaningful to the family and they were proud to be a part of it."

Joining the basketball near the stage was another tribute to Tisdale, his bass guitar, the very one he used to reach stardom in the world of jazz.

Biglow says the celebration was to show Tisdale's many talents, but he's quick to say the credit shouldn't go to the men who carried the casket but to the man who carried the hearts of his fellow Tulsans.

"He lived the life," Biglow said. "He planned that celebration. We didn't. We just carried it out through his life."