November 15, 1915 – January 20, 2010
Rev. Eugene Bradford, 94, a champion of justice and racial reconciliation, a theologian with a pastoral heart, and a loyal friend, passed away from old age.
Bradford was born in Philadelphia, Penn. From his youth on he knew that he would seek to prepare himself for the gospel ministry.
Bradford graduated from Wheaton College in l938 and from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1941. He married Gwen Welsh in 1940. She preceded him in death in 1988.
Bradford was ordained to the ministry in Faith Presbyterian Church, Fawn Grove, Penn. He was subsequently admitted to the ministry of the Orthodox Presbyterian denomination and served Calvary OPC of Philadelphia.
In 1951 he was admitted to the ministry of the Christian Reformed Church and served the congregations of Good Shepherd CRC in Flushing, Mich., and Trinity CRC of North Haledon, N.J. from 1954 till 1961.
For the next two years he lent his considerable organizational talents to Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia as it went through a stage of demanding expansion.
He served three more congregations: Ebenezer CRC in Berwyn, Ill., 1963; Franklin Lakes (N.J.) CRC, 1969; and Maple Avenue CRC, Holland, Mich, 1974. He retired in l980. In his retirement he served nineteen congregations during the time they were without a pastor.
Bradford devoted much time to sermon preparation while also focusing on the pastoral needs of his parishioners. People marveled at his seemingly boundless energy.
He had a sharp mind, a quick sense of humor, and seemed never to forget the names of people he had met.
During his stay in Berwyn, Bradford was drawn into the painful racial struggles surrounding the requested admission of black children from Lawndale CRC in Chicago to Timothy Christian Schools in Cicero, Ill.
In l968 the Christian Reformed denomination adopted anti-discrimination policies to which he had devoted much of his energy.
Bradford became increasingly a fearless champion of all whose rights and opportunities had been limited. In his retirement years he also devoted much energy to the efforts to open all offices of the church to women.
He served several denominational boards as their president: Christian Reformed World Missions, The Back to God Hour, the CRC’s committee on Race Relations, Calvin College, and Calvin Theological Seminary.
Bradford is survived by his children Thomas Bradford and Susan Bass, Elizabeth and Robert Aupperlee, Linda Bradford and Jim Jenkins, Jonathan and Grace Bradford, and David Bradford; ten grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his wife Florence Dougherty whom he married in 1988.
For more about Bradford, visit his family’s website at www.reveugenebradford.com.