James Edward Bradley

Apr 2 1937
Feb 9 2020
82 Years

Jim Bradley was a humble man who came from humble beginnings. The youngest of Walter and Mattie Bradley’s three children and the only son meant he would take on many different roles even as the baby of the family. With his best friend from Kindergarten, Danny Davidson, Jim learned to hunt at an early age and it was a source of pride for him throughout his life as a way to provide for his family. Living in his home town of Monett Missouri he worked at the local Dairy Queen, which he visited during his most recent high school reunion, and played trombone in the High School Marching Band. Jim knew he wanted to be an engineer, he joined ROTC so he could afford to attend the University of Missouri School of Mines in Rolla. Although the name of the school has changed it is still a premier university for engineering today. Jim and Danny were roommates in school, living in the home of their Sargent until a blind date where he met the love of his life, Judie.

At the time in Missouri, the age for marriage was 18 for a young woman and 21 for a man. While Judie was able to apply for the marriage certificate on her own, Jim had to have his parents’ permission. They lived in Rolla when they were first married and Jim finished his last year of college. After graduation, Jim began as an Engineer for Butler Manufacturing and eventually worked in the research division. It was on a trip to meet Buckminster Fuller that Jim had the opportunity to travel on a small private plane and he immediately fell in love with flying. The night he returned from that trip, he told Judie that he was going to learn how to fly when Judie said: “after you take me to the hospital, our baby is ready to enter this world." Jim and Judie had their first child, Shayne, and five years later they had Paige. When Jim left Butler, he built modular banks for Diebold in many states including several in Alaska. While working for Butler he became a registered Engineer in every state but Hawaii.  In 1981 Jim had the opportunity to open his own construction firm, Bentley Construction, which built many wonderful hospitals, schools, Real Estate Agencies, and even a few large homes, predominantly in Florida. Jim did the engineering and Judie ran a cabinet shop and provided space design for many of the jobs. When the time came to close the business and focus solely on engineering, Jim began to review, sign, and seal jobs electronically—even though he would tell you he was not very computer savvy.

Outside of work, Jim had several personal passions. One was flying and he had several private plans that he flew. When he closed the business, he needed something to hold his interest, so he decided to build a P-51 Mustang, a 2/3 scale plane, and you can see this plane today at the Air Museum in Reading, PA. In addition to flying, Jim had a love of cars from an early age. One of his favorites was Bentley. Long before today’s musicians decided this was the car to have, Jim purchased and restored his first Bentley. He and Judie spent many weekends participating in rallies and other functions with the Bentley club in Florida.

In addition to flying, Jim loved to be in nature and found great pride in hunting. So much so that he and Judie sold their home in Florida and moved their primary residence to Wheatland, Wyoming. In the middle of God’s country, as many say, he found peace and solace in the beauty of the unspoiled landscape. Jim proudly harvested only the animals his family could eat and followed the Native American tradition of honoring the animal who provided the food by creating a mount in their home. Together, he and Judie became a part of the community at the Flying X Ranch. Jim chose not to participate in many of the social functions, attending only when Judie could coerce him to do so, but he relished the camaraderie he felt there when many of the residents came to see him at their home. The family would say that Jim regularly held court, but he would shake his head and say, “no, they just understand I don’t go to the ranch house much.” Friday nights found Jim and Judie at the Shamrock, the only establishment less than 32 miles from the Ranch. It was here that Jim’s smile and sense of humor were seen often and appreciated.

Jim might tell you he didn’t get out much or have many friends, but in reality, he touched so many lives. Jim would most enjoy talking with others one-on-one, but he mostly listened. However, if someone showed an interest in one of his passions, he could wax eloquent for hours. Even in the last few weeks, Jim showed an enthusiastic smile at the mention of returning to the ranch and was pleased when one of his nurses was so excited to have some of the buffalo Jim harvested last year. He reviewed engineering jobs the day of his stroke—Jim truly lived his life to his fullest capacity until his relocation to heaven at the age of 82. Jim's legacy is so much larger than he ever could have imagined, but we are so proud and fortunate to carry with us every lesson he shared, story he told, and his wonderful sense of humor. The secret of life is the certainty of death, for without which man would not strive to leave his mark upon the Earth. Jim’s mark is deep and wide and will continue through his many wonderful relationships.

He is survived, in addition to his wife, by two children; Shayne Parker Bradley and wife Alison of Monroe, Washington, and Paige Nicole Morabito and husband Don of Downingtown, PA, four grandchildren; Bradley Morabito, Carrigan Morabito, Madelyn Bradley and Catherine Bradley and one sister Pat Crum of Colorado. He was preceded in death by one sister Bettie Bradley.

Our family moved around quite often, never staying in a house more than 7 years. My father was regularly looking ahead to the next step, the next project, the next opportunity. The only problem was that once he made a decision he wanted it done, now or right now. He was even known to read books in a single sitting.

At some level, I think part of the reason we moved regularly is that my father was looking for a place that would allow him to relax and have the sense of peace he craved. The Flying X Ranch seemed to be that for him. Not only had my parents found a place with rugged and rural beauty, but a community of people with similar interests and a love for the open space and wildlife. Papa had finally found the homestead he was looking for as a legacy for his family. He made us promise we would keep the Ranch in our family so future generations could experience the joy he had found in Wyoming.

Something we discussed last summer was our concern for Padgett Cabin. The home created by settlers spoke to all of us, especially my father’s nature of making your way in the world and leaving something of value to your family. More than just fiscal responsibility, a tangible legacy, a touchstone if you will. We had planned to spend time this summer starting the process of stabilizing and restoring Padgett Cabin, so we will continue this private initiative in my father’s memory.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Jim Bradley Memorial Fund which is being set up as a 501C3 with funds going to the preservation of historic landmarks on the Flying X Ranch. Our first initiative will be Padgett Cabin.  More information and donations instructions can be found by clicking the link HERE 

I know Papa would be so pleased that we are working together to preserve this for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

Service Date: 
Feb 13 2020 - 4:30pm
Service Location: 
Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church- 1121 Octorara Trail, Parkesburg, PA, 19365