Dr. Robert Ray Bradford

Published 11:15 pm Thursday, September 16, 2010

NEW YORK, NY. – Dr. Robert Ray Bradford passed peacefully at home on Sept. 1, 2010. Born in 1939, he was the second of eight children of the late Mr. and Mrs. Aquilla Alexander Bradford Sr. of Vredenburgh.

Dr. Bradford graduated as valedictorian of Escambia County Training School in Atmore. The following school year, the newly established honor society was named the Robert R. Bradford Honor Society. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University where he served as president of the Alpha Kappa Mu National Honor Society, president of his graduating class and Polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in agronomy from Pennsylvania State University.

On Aug. 14, 1982, he was joined in holy matrimony to his beloved wife, Sonya Lena Howell Bradford.

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He was an active and faithful member of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church where he served as a deacon, member of the Bethel Empowerment Foundation, married couples’ Sunday school class and the Bethel Retirement Ministry.

Dr. Bradford’s exemplary professional career included, but not limited to: associate professor, department chair and associate dean of agriculture at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in Huntsville. He later moved with his family to Washington, D.C. and became Deputy Director in the United States Department of Agriculture. It was there that he became the first Director of the District of Columbia Agricultural Experimental Station.

In 1981, Bradford received a joint appointment with Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and University of Florida as professor and director of the Center for Cooperative Agricultural Programs. The Center became a model for coordination of state agricultural programs. In 1987, he became Associate Dean for Agriculture at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. He was later named Dean of the College of Engineering Science, Technology and Agriculture. From 1998-2006, Dr. Bradford served as Center Director for the Water Quality Program. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 2006.

Dr. Bradford’s Professional/Community involvement included, but not limited to: Outstanding alumni Award of Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University; Dean’s Outstanding Administrator Award; Kappa Alpha Psi Man of the Year-1987; Professor Emeritus at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University; member of Tallahassee Urban League, Inc.; Chairman of Council of 1890 Deans and Directors of Agriculture; fifty years of membership in Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity – 2010; and honored by Tallahassee Community College in the 2010 African-American History Calendar.

His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Aquilla Bradford Sr. and his brother, Walter L. Bradford, preceded him death. Dr. Bradford leaves to cherish his memories, his loving wife, Sonya Howell Bradford; three sons, Patrick A. Bradford of New York, N.Y., Robert T. Bradford of Woodbine, Md. and Sean S. Gilliam of Tallahassee, Fla.; one daughter, Jennifer E. Bradford of Silver Spring, Md.; three sisters, Gola (McKinley) Dailey, Betty Stewart and Dorita (Roger) Purifory, all of Atmore; three brothers, James (Sarah) Bradford of Spring, Texas and Aquilla (Brunetta) Bradford Jr. and Charles Bradford, both of Atmore; aunt-in-law, Lucille C. Alexander of Tallahassee, Fla.; a sister-in-law, Carmen Howell Ferguson of Atlanta, Ga. and a host of nieces, nephews, other family members and friends.

Funeral services were held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. The family received visitors from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. at the wake on Friday, Sept. 10, 2010 at Strong & Jones Funeral Home. Memorial services of the Tallahassee Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity will followed the wake from 6:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.