Mary Helen Bradley, nee Wilson, said her goodbyes to family, on May 13, 2022, leaving us to join her husband of 69 years, Francis James (Jim) Bradley. Mary is survived by her children, Jan Bradley (Giacomo Tormene) of Cedar Rapids, John (Julie) Bradley of Cedar Rapids, Douglas James Bradley (Carol Brand) of Boulder CO, and Susan Bradley (Paul) Buse of Clayton MO, and by 13 grandchildren, 2 granddaughters-in-law, 2 great-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews and families. She is preceded in death by her husband Jim Bradley, brother James Wilson, son Michael Francis Bradley and infant daughter Mary Theresa Bradley.
Mary was born on October 6, 1925, in Wilmette, Illinois, to Helen (Michel) and Douglas Wilson. After graduating from New Trier High School, she attended Clark College in Dubuque, Iowa. Mary returned home after her freshman year to help care for her ailing father. She completed her education at National Teachers College. Upon graduation, she moved from Wilmette to teach in Upland, California. She then returned to Illinois, to continue her teaching career in Wilmette and then Libertyville. It was while she was packing for a summer in Puerto Rico that the guy she had briefly dated back in Dubuque knocked on her family’s door. He claimed to be simply passing through town and asked her to dinner. Mary said yes, after her August return from Puerto Rico. Their courtship reignited, and Jim proposed at Chicago’s Pump Room. Mary again said yes, and they were married at St Joseph Catholic Church in Wilmette, Illinois, on June 27, 1953.
Mary and Jim settled in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Jim began his legal practice, and Mary became a loved kindergarten teacher at Kenwood Elementary School. When son Michael was born in 1957, Mary stepped back from teaching to invest herself more fully into supporting and guiding her own family. As her children reached school age, she took her passion and wisdom into their schools, volunteering in classrooms, as well as taking on leadership of Cub Scouts, Campfire Girls, church youth group and other activities. As the family grew older, she volunteered as a docent at the Cedar Rapids Art Museum and then at Brucemore National Historical Site, and continued as an active and involved parishioner at All Saints Catholic Church. Mary continued to teach through her volunteer work, supporting students at the Kirkwood Learning Center, and, later, tutoring students at Catherine McAuley Center.
Always one for adventure, friendship, and family, Mary established a home welcoming travel, cards (Squeak to Liverpool Rummy), music and even the Magic Flowerpot. Favorite trips included those with Jim to Africa, South America, and Europe, with contrasting family excursions to Ireland and across states and continent in the Winnebago. Memorable days and nights were full, with bridge club, tennis/golf scrambles, lakes and laughter.
Mary will always be most treasured for her value of and commitment to her friends and family, and her ready ear and shoulder offered to so many of us when most in need of her warmth and acceptance. These embraces were as certain as the golden rosary beads that were so often and so tenderly strung through her hands. Her gifts of time, prayer and compassion cannot be captured in words, but are forever in our hearts and in how we continue to play forward the love she so naturally seeded.
Visitation will be held on Friday, May 20, 2022, 5:00-7:00pm, at the Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home. Funeral service on Saturday, May 21, 2022, 11:00am, at All Saints Catholic Church. Private inurnment at Mount Calvary Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to Mt Mercy Bradley Family Scholarship and the Catherine McAuley Center.