Bradford, Robert Lee II Minnesota and Wisconsin newspaper publisher, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 at 10 p.m. at Abbott NW Hospital. He died of pulmonary fibrosis and pneumonia. His wife, children and grandchildren had all been with him on that day. He was a brillian fastidious newspaper man always chasing the truth and putting out excellent newspapers. He was highly regarded by his colleagues and will be missed by his family and many friends.
Robert Lee Bradford II, born Nov. 4, 1938 in Bertha, MN, son of Robert Lee and Jeanne Milbrath Bradford. His father was publisher of the Verndale, MN Sun and postmaster in that city, and publisher of Moose Lake, MN Star Gazette. His mother attended Mankato Minnesota State University and was a teacher. Great-grandmother Mary Armistead Bradford, Baltimore, bought land in Sherburne County, MN in 1856. Her only child, John, later moved to Minnesota where he lived out his life after marrying Anna Swanson who was born in Sweden.
His maternal ancestors, the Milbraths, were among the early settlers of Jackson County, MN. He is a great-great grandson of Lt. Col. George Armistead, who was the commander of Fort McHenry during the battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. When Armistead arrived at Fort McHenry, he ordered a flag large enough for the British to see from a long distance. The flag became known as the Star-Spangled Banner flag, the subject of the poem by Francis Scott Key, which inspire the American National Anthem.
He is survived by his wife, Betsy Oswald Bradford. They were married July 14, 1962 in New Ulm, MN at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Their three children are Robert III, born in Austin, MN; Elizabeth (Richard) Kleber, and Justin, both born in Moose Lake, MN; three grandchildren, Brynja, Richard (Jett) and Tiffany (Treva) Kleber; brother, Curtis and his wife, Denise; and sister Roberta Jean Quade, deceased, (Howard Quad) all of Hutchinson, MN; and nephews and nieces.
He attended elementary school in Verndale and junior and senior high school in Moose Lake. He then attended Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA and was graduated from University of North Dakota in Grand Forks in 1960. Robert worked at the Austin Daily Herald before joining his father in business at the Moose Lake Star Gazette in 1963.
He then over a number of years bought the Barnum Herald, Northfield News, Waseca County News, St. Peter Herald, Madelia Times-Messenger, St. James Plaindealer, Redwood Gazette, Montevido American News, Granite Falls Advocate-Tribune (merger of Clarkfield and Granite Falls newspapers), Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch, Janesville Argus, LeSeuer News-Herald, LeCenter Leader, New Richmond News, Burnett County Sentintel, Cokato-Dassel Enterprise-Dispatch, New Ulm Post-Review.
He was also bank board directior of Community Resource Bank in Northfield, MN from 1987-2012 and Great Northern Bank in St. Michael, MN from 2000-2013. He was a member of numerous civic organizations in Moose Lake, New Richmond and Northfield and member of Minnesota National Guard from 1961-1969. He was a member of the Minneapolis Club, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis, Minnesota Society of War of 1812 (president 2006-2008), Minnesota Newspaper Association (president 1993), Kiwanis Clubs of Moose Lake and New Richmond, Northfield Rotary Club (Paul Harris Fellow), Tau Kappa Epsilon, Sigma Delta Chi (journalism), Minnesota Press Club board and Wisconsin Newspaper Association and its publisher of the year in 1973.
He and his wife have been living in Fort Lauderdale, FL since 1998 and have maintained a home in downtown Minneapolis. In Florida, they have been members of the Coral Ridge Country Club, All Saints Episcopal Church, Royal Order of Knights, Broward County Sheriff’s Advisory Council and former members of many years of Coral Ridge Yacht Club, donor and patron of Broward Center for Performing Arts Foundation, the Museum of Art- Fort Lauderdale, FL Grand Opera and Miami City Ballet.
Memorial service was held at 2 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 20 at the Lakewood Cemetery Chapel in Minneapolis, MN. Visitation was held a half hour prior with a reception following the service in the Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum.
In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to Planned Parenthood, or St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis.