Jul 1, 2003 | Marmot, Summer 2003

In Memorium

Longtime Mount Washington skier Herb Bradley – for whom the Bradley Development Centre is named – died May 29, 2003. He was 84 years old.

Bradley’s name was synonymous with the disabled ski program at Mount Washington, which he created in the 1970s.

“He was just an amazing man,” said Mount Washington General Manager Peter Gibson, who first learned to ski at age 10 under Bradley’s tutelage. “He sure has left a void.”

Since he arrived in the Comox Valley in 1947, Bradley was instrumental in teaching kids how to swim and ski, and helped bring the Vancouver Island Skiing for the Disabled Society a national reputation for the calibre of skiers it trains.

Two years ago, the disabled skiing race traditionally held in February at Mt. Washington, was renamed the Herb Bradley Coca-Cola Classic in the ski instructor’s honor.

Bradley was born in Bonnie Doon, a suburb of Edmonton. He was one of seven boys and three girls, and at Rutherford school he was always one of the top athletic performers in all fields. “His activities were many and varied, but in all fields his tremendous natural ability and strength of character and sheer determination always ended with the rest of the pack looking his way for leadership, even in the earlier days,” George Hobson wrote in 1960.

Once out of school Bradley worked in a sash and door factory as well as a mill, about 100 miles outside of Edmonton.
After taking a swim instructors’ course at the YMCA one year, he became a lifeguard and, under the watchful eye of one of Canada’s finest swimming coaches, he blossomed into a leading swimmer.

When the war came, Bradley enlisted in the navy, went to Halifax for basic training and was shipped off to sea. After switching to physical training, he met his future wife, Blanche, who was to play an important – albeit silent — role in Bradley’s life of volunteerism.

When the war ended Bradley started working for the Edmonton board of education. He left that job in early 1947 and moved to the Comox Valley after George Hobson hired him as the Courtenay Recreational Association’s first full-time recreational director — a post he held for 27 years.

“He put emphasis on the individual achievement and taught (kids) to persevere to reach their goal,” Don Dunne, president of the Vancouver Island Skiing for the Disabled Society, said at a dinner for Bradley in 2001. “His broad interest and personal involvement in sports, such as canoeing, hiking, swimming and gymnastics were brought to the CRA. He also brought arts groups and seniors’ groups into the fold.”

In 1969 Bradley’s titled changed to Parks and Recreation superintendent.

Later he assumed duties of area manager for the Mt. Becher Ski Development Society. He was also the first chairperson for the Comox Valley Winter Carnival in 1964. Close to 400 people gathered to say goodbye to Bradley. “I would have expected more sad people (but) there weren’t a lot of sad people,” Gibson said. “They celebrated his life.”

Everyone had a little story to tell about Bradley, many of them funny or happy. “It was generally a good feeling,” Gibson said.
“It was a fitting finish.”

Bradley was predeceased by his wife of 58 years, Blanche, and by six brothers and two sisters. He is survived by his son, Brick, of Merville, one sister, Vera, of Victoria and many nieces and nephews.

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