Remembering Mr. Bradford
It was with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of William R. Bradford Jr.
I knew him as Bill, and for the decade that I lived in Fort Mill, he was one of my closest friends. I first met him when I was the Store Manager of BC Moore’s. He was a sharp businessman, and we shared a common interest in the city’s commerce and government. As our relationship grew, I enjoyed many of meal at his dining room table. His lovely wife, Helen, treated me with kindness and affection.
The very special times came sitting with him in his den and at the newspaper office. There was not a topic of the past, present or future that we did not discuss. From stories about the “Tooth Dentist” to those about the “tobacco-resistant” shrubbery around the Band Stand, we never shared a dull moment. Not only was he knowledgeable about worldly affairs and its history, he was a living encyclopedia of Fort Mill.
One of his lifelong visions was establishing a viable Historical Society in Fort Mill. We succeeded in 1979. Organized in his dining room, he was elected the first president of the Fort Mill Township Historical Society. I was honored to be elected its first treasurer. As the organization crawled through infancy, Bill was the “glue” that kept it together. The genesis of his first book came out of our early efforts to collect any and everything about early Fort Mill.
When I was transferred to Miami, Fla., with Belk Department Stores, we stayed in touch. Exchanging letters and phone called, he sent me a pre-publication draft of his first book and asked of me my opinion of it. I called him and said, “Bill, I am not qualified to pass judgment on your work.” He responded to the contrary, saying that he valued my opinion. An autographed copy of that book is one of my most prized pieces in my book collection.
Bill was also my mentor. I had touched at the art of writing and his encouragement and suggestions kept me on track. On one visit to his home in the late ’80s, I asked him to critique one of my manuscripts. After returning home, I received it in the mail a week later. Bill had corrected numerous issues regarding spelling and grammar, but did not add or detract from the content. Instead, he wrote across the final page in red, “You get an A+.”
Bill Bradford was a great man, loving husband, proud father, and a Fort Mill Treasure.
William “Rusty” Major