I miss Alice and Jim and my Mother and Father.
Born March 15, 1941 on a farm near Kankakee, Illinois I was fifth of six children born to Howard and Esther Bradley. Sisters Carolyn and Alice and I actually did walk a mile and half to and from the one-room Rathman school where Mrs. Lund ruled. Susan and Jim (James) walked to to a different one-room school before they graduated and rode a yellow bus to and from Reddick High School. We eight lived in a big old house with one indoor bathroom. Parents slept on the main floor. Later a second toilet was installed upstairs where all us kids slept and played.
There was clear division of labor. I'm not sure what mother or my sisters did but am sure it was relentless, backbreaking and detail oriented.
As a boy I spent most of my time outdoors taking care of chickens and making sure livestock were fed and watered. My first mechanized memory is at age five keeping a Caterpillar tractor running in a straight line while men walked behind throwing corn into a wagon. By eight, under adult supervision, I had my own tractor delivering water and wagons of feed to animals, tilling land, harvesting crops of corn, oats and beans and mowing hay. Dad and Jim milked about 70 cows twice a day, raised about 500 hogs each year and supervised tillage, planting and harvesting on the Limestone Farm, Homestead and later on an Essex Farm. About 1948 an open shower was installed in the basement so working men could shower before ascending stairs to eat with family.
Graduating from Herscher High School in 1959 I am memorialized in the Yearbook for having "A vocabulary far suppressing his elders"; NOT a compliment. With a scholarship I left for The University of Illinois in 59 to "flunk out" in 62. Out of options, I joined the Navy in 63 and among other deployments was at Charlie Med Field Hospital near Da Nang, Vietnam from June to December 65. Honorably discharged in 67 I used the GI Bill to complete a Bachelor's Degree at The University of Illinois. That's where I met Marylyn Patton Bradley, my lifelong soulmate. Being married students was fun and we ended up earning three degrees each.
Marylyn's managing the hard jobs of raising son Eirean, daughter Katherine and grandchildren and working as a Registered Dietitian, Human Resources Manager and finally as a Phi Theta Kappa Advisor freed me to chase career advancement opportunities. My favorite explanations of our relationship are "I wouldn't have accomplished anything without Marylyn" and "I haven't paid a bill in 50 years".
Marylyn was always chosen to manage church affairs while I was Scoutmaster and Youth Group Advisor.. While Marylyn attended endless meetings I was on teams that led field trips, lock-ins and week long Boy Scout and Church camps where everyone played hard and slept in tents, in cabins and on random floors. At 70 years of age I gave up youth ministry to help maintain the St. Peter's Episcopal Church and Montessori School grounds. Scoutmaster for years our Troop 401 Leadership Team met monthly until the 2020 pandemic made it impossible for us "old-geezers" to safely meet in person.
Marylyn received multiple awards as she led Phi Theta Kappa at Estrella Mountain Community College to never before attained heights.
My greatest managerial accomplishment was cofounding the Maricopa Community Colleges' Organizational Management Program. This "Flexible" program lets student take whatever seven vocational courses they want to take, then caps their vocational training with leadership and management skills that lead to a college degree. Thousands of students use this freedom to transform their unique talents into college certificates and degrees each year. I was Arizona Vocational Educator of the Year.
My final 22 years were as Residential Faculty at Estrella Mountain Community College. There I used my Home Page to post the five courses I taught and created a Career Development Program that helped thousands of students choose careers and create a plan to "Make dreams come true". The John Bradley Scholarship was established for "Outstanding contribution to advancing the mission of the Maricopa Community Colleges".
So lucky for the privilege of living with smarter than me Marylyn, son Eirean, daughter Katherine, granddaughter Lydia and grandsons Canaan and Deven.
Mother Esther passed away in 1971, Father Howard in 1985, Brother Jim in 2006 and Sister Alice (Lambert) in 2021. Sisters Susan (Schreifer), Carolyn (Brinkman) and Ruth (Johnson) are still with us.
I've been truly blessed.