BRADFORD, Robert Preston 1934-2015
BRADFORD, PRESTON, CASSITY
Posted By: K. L. Kittleson
Date: 9/21/2015 at 00:33:07
Robert Preston Bradford
Died: March 8, 2015
Saturday, March 21, 2015 at Cedar Heights Presbyterian Church
Memorial Park Cemetery
Robert died on March 8, 2015 on his beloved island of Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, West Indies. He suffered a heart attack while swimming at his favorite beach. He was 80 years old.
He was born October 7, 1934, in Bushnell, Illinois, to Pearl and Olive Preston. When he was an infant both of his parents died and he was adopted by Charles and Carrie Bradford of Bushnell. After their deaths when Bob was 6, he was raised by his aunt, Mae Preston. He married Margaret Ann Cassity, of Decatur, Illinois, in 1960 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Robert graduated from Bushnell High School in Illinois, and attended Western Illinois University in Macomb. After serving with the U.S. Army in Korea, he attended the University of Illinois and did postgraduate work at St. Louis University, Missouri. His degree was in chemistry.
In 1959 he began working for A.E. Staley Company, Decatur, Illinois where he met and married Margaret and subsequently worked in chemistry and sales for Shell Chemical, New York and Chicago. He was a partner in Independent Investors (banking and distribution investments). He purchased Bearing Service Company in 1967 and built it from one small location in Waterloo, Iowa to a significant regional operation with numerous locations.
In 1985, he merged the company with Bearing Distributors of Cleveland, Ohio, and served as Executive Vice-president of Bearing Distributors, Inc. which had more than 100 locations in the US and eight subsidiary companies offshore. Bob was instrumental in developing the bearing distribution business in Eastern Europe and later, China.
An active venture capitalist in Iowa and in the early computer software industry on the West Coast, he was also a founding director and member of the executive committee of Mid-America Bank, director of Winnebago, director of Cycle Sat and at the time of his death was serving as Chairman of the Board of Black Hawk County Abstract and Title.
He was Managing Partner of Bradford Associates, a consulting company providing both domestic and international consulting services. As Chairman of Special Optics, a high precision optics company near New York City, he turned the company from a money-losing operation to a profitable company providing a significant return on investment for the shareholders.
Deeply connected to the community that had provided such a nurturing environment, he served as a director of the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa, Waterloo Industrial Development Association, and was a member of the board of the UNI Research Foundation.
He enjoyed serving on the Advisory Board of the UNI College of Business and was also past-president of the Waterloo Downtown Rotary Club, past-president of Self Help International, and currently director emeritus. He was a former director of the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, the Grout Museum, and former commissioner of the Waterloo Recreation and Art Commission.
He served as a director of the Cedar Valley United Way, Cedar Valley Junior Achievement, and was past chairman of the YMCA annual fund drive. In 2000, he was inducted into the Cedar Valley Business Hall of Fame.
He and Margaret loved music and enjoyed supporting various arts groups. An avid reader, he also sought out challenging recreational activities and found much pleasure in biking, skiing, and kayaking. When he decided to sell the airplane, he and Margaret learned to sail and Bob loved sailing his sloop (which he said he bought for Margaret as a birthday present) in Nova Scotia waters.
He will be dearly missed by his wife of 55 years, Margaret; a son, Charles (Chuck) and daughter-in-law Abigail (Abby) Bradford of Mantorville, Minnesota; a daughter, Elizabeth (Liz) and son-in-law Thomas (Tom) Hanly of Shakopee, Minnesota; and one grandson, Spencer of Mantorville, Minnesota.
Bob was preceded in death by his birth parents, his adopted parents, his Aunt and a brother, Lynn Preston.
Source: Locke Funeral Home
Black Hawk Obituaries maintained by Kermit Kittleson.
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