William R. “Bill” Bradford, Jr. ’37, age 97, longtime civic, religious, and business leader, died on Friday, September 27, 2013. The family received friends in the church Fellowship Hall following the service which was held Monday, September 30, 2013, at 3 p.m. at Unity Presbyterian Church.
He was the son of the late W.R. Bradford, Sr. and Annie Culp Bradford, and the last survivor of a family of nine sons and daughters. Educated in the Fort Mill schools and Davidson College, Mr. Bradford was editor and publisher of the Fort Mill Times from 1943 until he sold the newspaper and retired in 1979. Under his leadership, the Times won several General Excellence Awards as the best weekly paper in South Carolina, and he personally won numerous writing awards. Many were for his popular “No Foolin” column, often excerpted by other newspapers. Prior to his purchasing the Times from his father, he had been employed by the Forest City Courier and the Lancaster News. In 1982, Mr. Bradford accepted appointment as York County Magistrate for Fort Mill Township and served with distinction in this capacity until retirement in 1987.
Active in almost every phase of life in Fort Mill, Mr. Bradford became Fort Mill’s Scoutmaster in 1937. For 18 years, he was a member of the board of trustees of the Fort Mill Schools, serving six years as Chairman. He was a charter member and director of the Fort Mill Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, member and President of the Fort Mill Loins Club, and served as a member of the Committee for the Elderly at Piedmont Medical Center. He was a member of the board that organized the University of South Carolina at Lancaster. He was devoted to Davidson College and served for many years as Secretary for his class of 1937. From 1954-1968, he was the voice of the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets football team, serving as the play-by-play announcer at all home games.
In his years as editor and publisher of the Fort Mill Times, he led with a strong voice on issues concerning the town and its residents. In the 1970s he repeatedly editorialized on the need for replacement of the bridge on Doby’s Bridge Road, and in 1979, the resulting new bridge was named for him. In 1991, Bradford was presented the first Lifetime Service Award given by the Fort Mill Chamber of Commerce, and, in 2005, he received the Fort Mill Citizen of the Year award. In 2009, he was one of five, and the only living member, inducted into the inaugural Fort Mill Hall of Fame. In 2012, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fort Mill Area Council of York County, SC, Chamber of Commerce. Bradford authored “Out of The Past,” a popular book on the history of Fort Mill, and he wrote and published many other papers and pamphlets on the subject. He was a frequent speaker at meetings and was well known for his knowledge of events past and present, which he would relate with humor. A talented artist, his landscape oil paintings hang in the homes of his family. A member of Unity Presbyterian Church since childhood, he served as deacon, elder, trustee and church historian, and was the oldest male member.
He was predeceased by his wife of 68 years, Helen Parler Bradford. He is survived by his son, William R. Bradford III and wife, Pamela North, of Charlotte, NC, and daughter, Camille Bradford Hugg and husband, Bobby, of Columbia, SC.
Donations may be made to Unity Presbyterian Church, PO. Box 1267 Fort Mill, SC 29716 or Hospice and Community Care, PO Box 993, Rock Hill, SC 29731. Condolences may be left for the family at www.fortmillfuneralhome.com