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Age 67, of Mount Lebanon, suddenly and unexpectedly on Monday February 5 th in the company of his beloved wife. Cherished husband of Peggi Kelley for over forty years; loving father of Rory (Jessie) of San Antonio, TX and Kevin of Brooklyn, NY; devoted grandfather of Nora and Nolan; brother of Sarah Burton of Summit, NJ; also survived by numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by his parents R. Paul and Nora Stewart Bigger and siblings Elizabeth, H. Stewart and Richard (surviving spouse Karen) Bigger.Joel was born and raised in New Jersey and graduated from Hunterdon Central High School in 1968. He earned his BS in Geology at the University of Pittsburgh in 1972, where he also met Peggi, the love of his life and future wife. Although he had always loved animals and had many pets as a child, working as an assistant to the veterinarian at the Pittsburgh Zoological Society sparked his interest in veterinary medicine as a career. Joel moved to Philadelphia to earn his Veterinary Medicine Doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania, before he and Peggi moved back to Pittsburgh in 1979 when Joel accepted a job offer from Dr. Thomas Moore at the Avalon Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Bigger continued to work there for the next thirty five years with co-workers who became family and clients who became lifelong friends After his retirement in 2014, Joel was able to enjoy his many passions: gardening, photography, traveling, going to the theatre and taking long walks with his Sheltie, Pixel. He truly loved the theatre. He and Peggi were dedicated patrons of multiple local theatre companies, a love that rubbed off on his son Kevin who went on to work on Broadway. His love of gadgets and making things work was passed on to Rory who became an engineer. Joel’s love of travel started with many cross-country road trips with his parents and siblings in his childhood, which he later re-created with Peggi in the 1970s and with their boys in the 1990s. In retirement, he enjoyed many trips to Texas to spend time with his grandchildren and took one final epic adventure with Peggi to Tanzania to go on safari this past November. As the child of an immigrant parent, Joel was strongly supportive of immigrant rights and equal rights for all humans. Friends will be received at Laughlin Cremation & Funeral Tributes 222 Washington Road Mt. Lebanon on Saturday March 31, 2018 from 12 Noon until the time of a Celebration of Joel's Life at 1:00 PM. For those who would like to remember Joel, the family suggests memorial contributions to Spencer and Friends Animal Rescue, firstname.lastname@example.org Kinetic Theatre, P.O. Box 9246, Pittsburgh, PA. 15224; or any other local arts, animal rescue, LGBTQ+ or immigrant rights organization of the donor’s choice.