Life Story / Obituary
Judson T. Bradford, 92, died December 28, 2020 after a long illness. He was preceded in death by his parents William (W.J.) and Margaret, and his older brother Bill.
Jud is survived by his wife of 69 years, Catharine (Caddie); three sons and daughters-in law: Jim and Julie, Jud and Kirby, and Tom and Kathy; eight grandchildren: Chris (Genevieve), Catey (Jon) Garland, Liz (Brian) Harper, Scott (Elyse), Max, Maggie (Bob) Kuzak, Tommy (SarahBeth), and Katie (Zach) Grant; 11 great-grandchildren; sister-in law Lucy Bradford, nephews, nieces, and cousins.
Jud’s family lived in the South Shore district of Chicago and spent their summers at Macatawa. He followed his parents, aunts and uncles to the University of Chicago. After living in St. Paul and Minneapolis for four years, Jud left the budget department at Pillsbury to accept his third invitation to join the family packaging business, W.J. Bradford Paper Company, in Holland.
In 1973 Jud succeeded his father’s younger brother, Charles (C.L.), as president of the company. He served in that capacity until 1996 and finally retired in 2001 after 44 years.
Jud was the first person from the Holland/Zeeland area to join an eight county Citizens Council working to establish a new state college in the area. After appointment to the Executive Committee of that Council, he urged the Board of Control to approve the site committee’s recommendation of the Allendale property. Grand Valley State University lists him as one of its founders.
Jud is a past president of the Rotary Club of Holland and was an Honorary Rotarian. He was a member of the Board of Old Kent Bank for fifteen years.
In the 1960s, he advocated to state and national Republican leaders that they promote employee stock ownership for the employees of public corporations. He was cited by the ESOP Association in Washington, D. C., as a pioneer in the employee stock ownership movement. Jud was a delegate to the first and second White House Conferences on Small Business held in 1980 and 1986. He was appointed by Gov. William Milliken to serve on a Steering Committee to prepare for a Michigan Conference on Small Business, the first such state conference, which was held in Lansing in May, 1981. He was the third president and fourth chairman of the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) and served four years as a member of the Governor’s Entrepreneurial and Small Business Commission after his appointment by Gov. James Blanchard in 1984.
Until recently, Jud and Caddie spent their winters in retirement at Burnt Store Marina on Charlotte Harbor south of Punta Gorda, FL.
Although his children and associates remember him as a wonderful mentor, his grandchildren and great grandchildren are fondest of his “candy buffets”. We will all miss his easy laughter and charming, sweet demeanor.
A memorial event will be planned in the future. Jud and Caddie have long supported the Boys and Girls Club of Holland and welcome memorial contributions to that organization.