William J. Bradley (Bill, Brad) passed away peacefully on August 5, 2007, in Berlin, Germany. He had lived in Berlin for the past two years with his lovely and supportive wife and companion of sixteen years, Kimberly Porter (Smith ’96), and his two most recent young sons, Paris and Calder.
From previous marriages, Bill is survived by three daughters, Blue, Blair, and Blake, and his eldest son, Jack. A granddaughter, Quincy Herman, also survives him. Bill’s untimely death came after a courageous fifteen-month fight against an aggressive brain tumor that he waged with characteristic good humor and strength that left everyone in awe.
Bill came to Amherst from Flint, MI, as a star athlete and student. He was a gifted athlete, tough and competitive. At Amherst, he was a standout receiver and linebacker on the football team and was a pitcher on the baseball team. In his junior year season, he won the baseball MVP award and was elected captain for his senior year. He played competitive baseball well into his fifties.
He was a member of Theta Delta Chi and was well suited to fraternity life in the 60s. He loved to carouse and to converse and would roam the campus on weekends. Bill was funny, energetic, and sometimes confrontational. He was always one to challenge boundaries and was insightful in a completely natural and unique way.
He majored in psychology. But it was in his later years at Amherst when he drifted into the dramatic arts world that he found himself. His final project at Amherst was to produce and direct The Great American Desert. For this, he recruited as actors washed up athletic types, old girlfriends, fraternity mates, general friends, and struggling wannabes.
And who can forget Bill’s alliterative family? He married Betsy Gordon (Smith College) on the day of his Amherst graduation and promptly had three daughters, Blue, Blair, and Blake. His first son, Jack, was born in 1988 from his second marriage to Meg Lemon.
He was an English intern in the National Teacher Corps before moving to the Denver area, where he began a thirty-one year career as a high school teacher at Cherry Creek High School. He voluntarily chose early retirement to move to Europe with Kim, Paris, and Calder to continue teaching, learning, and traveling. He taught for a year at The International School in Prague and then for a year at the John F. Kennedy School in Berlin before being stricken.
Bill’s love of learning after Amherst never ceased. He earned three masters degrees after Amherst in education, English, and journalism and a bachelors degree in art history.
Bill taught English and art history. He established the first Advanced Placement art history program in the Denver area. He coached baseball and advised the student newspaper. He had a side career as a stringer for UPI and The Denver Post. In summers, Bill and Kim traveled through Europe and Asia on their own art pilgrimages and returned with hundreds of slides of paintings, sculpture, and architecture for his classes.
Always playful with words and forever imagining, Bill was correctly perceived by his students as a wordsmith and a man of ideas. Students and colleagues affectionately would refer to him as a Renaissance man, obviously bringing that aspect of the Amherst experience to the classroom and his professional life. Students interested in writing and in the creative process would gravitate to him.
From his family to his career, Bill surrounded himself with youth. He was forever young, in many ways a perfect product of the tumultuous ’60s. It is possible that old age and a rocking chair would not have well suited him. Yet, there was no reason for him to be taken so early from his children, his wife, his friends, and his students. In the end, he packed more into his fifty-eight years than most blessed with long lifetimes.
Bill was good, witty comic relief for all of us. He made us all laugh at life and at ourselves. What we will remember most is his deep, hearty laugh and his piercing, seductive, and mischievous grin. He will be missed.
—John Kehoe ’70