An extraordinary life: Lou Bradley dead at 92

Mary Ann Kearns - [email protected]
In this file photo, Lou Bradley holds a Gerald Ford poster that she had in her personal collection. -

She was a a force to be reckoned with in the Republican Party and one of the first women to hold a position of leadership within its ranks.

Lou Bradley died Tuesday in Maysville. She was 92.

A native of Maysville, Bradley’s interest in politics dated back to her high school years in Paintsville, former Mason County Republican Chair C.J. Hunter said.

“She was a real pioneer of community services and the Republican Party,” Hunter said. She served as a delegate to state and national conventions and was a true believer in her core political values, he said.

Bradley paid her dues setting up local campaign headquarters and organizing grassroots efforts at election time. She also worked tirelessly to involve young people in the political process, Hunter said. He said his first involvement in Republican politics came in 1971 when he worked on the Thomas Emberton gubernatorial campaign alongside Bradley. He credits her for his interest in politics.

Bradley went on to become one of the first women to hold an administrative position in the Republican Party of Kentucky.

Son Mark Bradley recalls a story his mother told about attending a Republican meeting in Morehead. She went into the meeting and took a seat. The person in charge addressed the crowd, saying it looked like the chairman from Mason County wasn’t there.

“She said ‘The Mason County Chairman is here,’” Mark Bradley said.

And she was, by the way on a first-name basis with presidents.

“He called me Lou,” she said in 2006 as she spoke about her friendship with former president Gerald Ford. “We got to be personal friends.”

“I loved President Ford from the first time I ever met him,” she said. “People loved him, didn’t matter who they were, they loved him.”

But Ford was not by any means her only acquaintance among Republican hierarchy.

“Now Reagan was awful sweet, awful nice,” Lou Bradley said.

“She was a real treasure of political information,” Hunter said. But more importantly, she was instrumental in developing an infrastructure of leaders, he said.

Despite her position in politics and her ability to size up people in an instant, Mark Bradley said she was “just Mom to me,” making sandwiches and letting her sons know when they did something she didn’t approve of.

Lou Bradley’s first aspiration was to be come a lawyer but she was taken ill after starting college and then she married her husband, the late Dr. William Bradley soon after that. The couple moved to Louisville where he attended dental school while she worked at Selman’s, turning down an opportunity to become a buyer so she could move to Maysville where her husband was establishing his practice.

Brian Bradley said his mother saved his life on two occasions — once when he was a child and later when he was an adult.

“She was always there for Mark and me,” he said.

Lou Bradley was honored by the city when she retired from the Joint Planning Commission in 2005 and by her beloved Republican Party just a few years ago when she received the first Geoff Davis Award.

She served on the JPC for 20 years and was recognized by Mayor David Cartmell with a day named in her honor.

“I hereby dedicate April 6, 2005, as Lou Bradley Day,” Cartmell said.

Shortly after his mother died, Mark Bradley announced the news on social media, adding “Some in Maysville might have known her as The Republican Lady. I knew her as Mom, and even someone as slow on the uptake as I could grasp that this was a remarkable woman who led an extraordinary life. She met Presidents. She met everybody. She could do anything. Brian and I are proud to be her sons.”

Services for Lou Bradley are Thursday at Trinity United Methodist Church in Maysville beginning at noon.

In this file photo, Lou Bradley holds a Gerald Ford poster that she had in her personal collection. this file photo, Lou Bradley holds a Gerald Ford poster that she had in her personal collection.

Mary Ann Kearns

[email protected]