Saturday, July 30, 2016

Obituary: John Duncan Bradley, 91, once from Bolivar

John Duncan Bradley, 91, of 671 Lakeside Circle, Unit 618, Pompano Beach, FL, passed away at his summer home at 256 West Shore Rd., Cuba, NY, after a long and eventful life on July 25, 2016. He arrived in Olean, New York on October 26, 1924, as the second son of John C. and Edith Washburn Bradley. They made their home in Bolivar, and John, (Buster or "Bus" to his contemporaries), graduated with Bolivar Central School’s class of 1942, where he excelled in football and track, winning the school's outstanding athlete award.

He graduated from the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, in June 1943, and immediately followed his brother into the United States Army Air Force as a cadet, and began a lifelong passion for flying. He did his basic training in Miami Beach and earned a spot in the pilot training program that fall. He received his wings and multi-engine rating in Macon, Georgia on March 11, 1945. Not speaking a foreign language, he survived his first assignment as a B-25 instructor using sign language to teach Free French cadets how avoid crashing at Randolph Field, Montgomery, Alabama. At the war's end, he was stationed at Truax Field, Madison, Wisconsin, where he and his fellow pilots used the state capital building as a pylon, and where he underwent training to fly B-29's for the final assault on Japan. He was discharged in Fort Wayne, Indiana on November 17, 1945.

While attending Air Force ground school at Syracuse University in the late months of 1943, he met Beverly Christman of Wellsville, New York. They were married on April 21, 1946, while he was a student at Rennsalaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Beverly passed away on April 16, 2012, five days before their sixty-sixth anniversary.

After attending RPI and Alfred University, John began his working life at the Bradley Producing Company in Wellsville, New York, where, in 1952, he became superintendent of its Illinois Division, and retired as Chairman of the Board in 1983. He, with his cousin Richard Bradley, owned and operated the Homestead Oil Company with leases near Bolivar and Allentown. John served as a director of the State Bank of Bolivar, and after its merger with the Citizens Bank of Wellsville he served as the chairman of that board's building committee. He was one of the early developers of the Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, was a director of the CONAP Corporation, and was the proud sole proprietor of the Bolivar Screen Door Aircraft Company.

The only elective office John ever held was as a member of the Bolivar Central School Board. However, he was very active in civic affairs. He was president of the Bolivar Country Club, the Bolivar Free Library, and the New York State Oil Producer's Association. He was a trustee of Alfred University. He was a New York State Republican Committeeman, and was a delegate or alternate delegate to numerous Republican State and National conventions. The first presidential convention he attended was in Chicago in 1952, where he actually heard John Wayne say, "Well, hello little lady," to a hat check girl. (She nearly fainted). He was a member of Macedonia Lodge 258 Bolivar, the Wellsville Elks Club, the John Knox Village Rotary Club, and had been a member of the Bartlett Country Club and of the Lighthouse Point Yacht and Racquet Club. He was also a founding member of Holimont and of the Cuba Lake Yacht Club. He was also a charter member of the Olean chapter of the ROMEO’s, and regularly attended their lunch meetings until last month. He and his life-long close friend, Tony Sallazzo, are the last two surviving World War Two veteran members of Bolivar's Kenyon Andrus Post of the American Legion. Last month, John was honored to be named the Grand Marshal of the Bolivar Pioneer Oil Day’s parade.

As chief mechanic and co-owner with his friend and pilot-partner, Ralph Twombley, he won the AT-6 class National Air Races in Reno, Nevada. John is the only person who travelled the Barge Canal in a three-horsepower, coal-fired steamboat (in 1957 with his great friends John and Mike Mitchell of Bradford), who also flew around the world on the Concorde, in 1996, to celebrate his and his wife's Fiftieth Anniversary. He was well known for the seemingly endless supply of anecdotes and funny stories he told about his life, many concerning the antics of his close friends. One of those friends was "Senator" Irwin Dick of Minneapolis, who took binoculars to the beach to get a better look at the girls twenty-five feet away. Another was Royal Allen Glintz of Bolivar, who at one time or another impersonated everyone from an Arab sheik, (during the 1974 oil crisis), to New York State Game Commissioner Louis Wahle, at Commissioner Wahle's own swearing-in ceremony. John’s last adventures and stories came with fellow Air Force veteran Bill Rollo, who managed to get John and himself across the Canadian border to visit the Royal Canadian Air Force Museum with a passport that had expired thirty-two years before.

John was predeceased by his parents and by his brother, 1st Lt. George W. Bradley, who died in World War Two, and by his niece, Sara Bradley. His first child, Mary Priscilla, died in 1948. He is survived by a son, George C. Bradley (Constance) of Miami Shores, FL, and by two daughters, Marcia Bradley of Madison, WI, and Deborah (Thomas) Arzberger of Greenwood, SC. He is also survived by eight grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, three nieces, and one cousin, former Secretary of the Air Force Thomas C. Reed of Healdsburg, California.

John's family would like to publicly thank Tina Shafer and all of her home health aides who provided wonderful care for John during the last months of his life, especially Crystal Hogan, Amy Wetherby, Megan Solomon, Angela Rhodes, and Tracy Trunko. In Florida, he was similarly cared for by Victoria Hart. Memorials may be made to the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation for the Cuba Lake Area Young Sailors Fund; to the Bolivar Free Library; to the Pioneer Oil Museum of New York; or to the charity or cause of the donor's choice. There will be no visitation. A private graveside memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 13. This will be followed by a celebration party for family and friends honoring John’s memory at the family cottage at 256 West Shore Road, Cuba Lake, Cuba, New York, beginning at 4:00 p.m.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Schaffner Funeral Home Inc., Bolivar.