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1/3/2013 12:09:00 PM
OBITUARY: Russell L. Bradford

Russell L. Bradford, 86, entered into eternal rest on Dec. 8, 2012, and has left warm and wonderful memories for his loved ones to cherish.

He was born Oct. 16, 1926, in Blythe, to the parents of Thomas and Gertrude Bradford. He was the youngest of five children born to this union.

He received his formal education in Blythe and went on to attend college at Washington State University in 1944. While attending WSU, he was one of 250, 17 year olds assigned to an Army Specialized Training Reserve Program (ASTRP). The ASTRP was a military program instituted by the US Army during WWII to meet wartime demands for junior officers and soldiers with technical skills. Although he did not serve in WWII, he fulfilled his military obligation by serving in the Korean War.

Russell met Faye in Bakersfield, Calif., in June 1947, and they were married on Nov. 1, 1947 after a six-month courtship. From this blessed union three children were born: Garry, Kathy, and Russell, who were all born in Bakersfield.

In 1954, while working for the U.S. Postal Service in Bakersfield, he passed the Railway Officers exam with the highest score in the western states. This entitled him a preference of assignments and he chose San Francisco.

In 1956, he moved his family to take a position as toll collector on the Bay Bridge. In 1961, after passing the sheriffs exam in San Francisco, he became the first black sheriff in the San Francisco Sheriff Department. He served 25 years and retired as a senior deputy sheriff in October 1986.

Russell devoted much of his time to his church, Lutheran Church of Our Savior after his retirement. He was the church "handyman," as he did everything except preach the sermon. He held many positions such as being on the church council, church secretary, treasurer, custodian, usher, Sunday school teacher, as well as being an organizer of social events and helping others achieve their goals.

Russell had a passion for people and would always have something witty to say. He had a way of putting things in perspective that would make you smile, laugh, or just made perfect sense. He was a loving family man who loved to travel. He would always drive to see family and friends in Blythe and in the Los Angeles area every year. Las Vegas was his second home, which he visited often.

In 1991, Faye passed away after a long illness. He married Shirley Burr on Feb. 13, 1993, and lovingly accepted Shirley's son, Andre Burr, with this union. They enjoyed 14 years of marriage until Shirley became ill and passed away in 2007.

He is survived by his sister, Lillian Adams; brothers, Terrell Bradford and Alfred Bradford; his sons, Garry and Russell; daughter-in-law Jackie Bradford; sister-in-laws, Elvira Bailey, and Nita Bradford; grandchildren; Lisa, Stacey, Jacob, Kellee, Neila, Russell III, and Michele; great grandchildren; Kaylah, Jaden, Jordan, Jasmyne, Krishelle, Nazario, Nalya, and Greyson; nephews, Lawrence Bailey Jr. and wife Linda, Leo Walton Jr., Glen Walton Sr. and wife Vivian, Patrick Bradford and wife Mary, James Adams, Alvin Adams, Calvin Adams Jr., Russell C. Bradford, Marty Bradford, Keith Bradford; nieces, Yvonne Foster, Patricia Bradford, Freda Bradford, Christina Dale; special friend Obie Nash and wife Frieda; a host of relatives; and many loving friends who will miss him dearly.

He was preceded in death by his first wife of 44 years, Otha Faye, and his second wife of 14 years, Shirley Burr. His daughter Kathryn (Kathy) and his brother Thomas, also preceded him in death.

Memorial services for Russell were held on Dec. 28, 2012 at Lakeside Presbyterian Church in San Francisco.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013
Article comment by: Lonnie Plemmons

Seeing Russel's obituary brought back memories along with saddness of his passing. He and I played high school basket ball together, both on the start team. I remember him well and remember his friendliness, and good disposition. Arlie Plemmons, on the same page was my nephew. I was looking it up when I saw Russel.

My condolences to the family.

Lonnie Plemmons class of 1944

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