Robert M. Bradbury Jr.
On Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021, the architect Robert M. Bradbury Jr. — Brad to nearly all who knew him — died shortly after his wife Monica kissed him goodbye. Brad, 96, was living in Glens Falls Center, a nursing home in Glens Falls, where he spent the last three months of his life.
Born and raised in West Texas, Brad spent the first 10 years living in a tent along the Mexico border outside Laredo, where his dad was an oil field superintendent and his mother a homemaker. In 1934, the family, which now included his sister Dotty, moved to Kilgore, a big new East Texas oilfield boom town. Founded four years after oil was discovered there, Kilgore soon became known as the “City of Stars,” after the lights on top of many oil derricks. By the time Brad graduated from Kilgore High School in 1941, 1,200 derricks had been erected within the city limits.
Surrounded by lush, piney woods and several East Texas lakes, Brad first went to Kilgore College for a year before enlisting in the Air Force in the waning year of World War II, where he was assigned to desk duty. After two years of service, with an honorable discharge in hand, Brad enrolled into Rice University, where he joined their architecture department and graduated with a B.A. in art. A few years following graduation in 1954, Brad moved to New York City on a grant. He had intended to go to Europe, but he ended up working in various architectural firms.
While working in New York, he acquired his professional degree and joined the ranks as a junior architect. As time went on, he co-founded a Manhattan-based practice, Bradbury, Erfan, and King. They focused on hospital design, resulting in such important work as St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, and Cornell Medical School and the Rebecca Harkness House Ballet School, both in Manhattan.
During his early days in the city, Brad was by no means all work; early on, he met Monica Lermont. They married within a year, in 1955. While Brad may have swept Monica off her feet, that year she took him to the Adirondacks, to Keene Valley, where her family had been seasonal residents since the turn of the century. En route to the North Woods, Brad was stunned by trees he had never seen before, white birches. Monica swept Brad off his feet this time, taking him to the region that he equally fell in love with, and they to visit for most of their life until retiring there in 2003.
For most of their married life, Brad and Monica lived in Piermont, in a house right on the Hudson River where they could take a morning swim or an afternoon sail. Monica, a skilled artist, established a small studio, and there they raised their two daughters Claudia and Jessica. In 1970, Brad was selected to help develop a master plan for Piermont used to guide the community’s growth over the next decade “for the better life of its people.”
In 1989, Brad designed his first house. Located at the Ausable Club in Keene for Liz and Will Stewart, the home was so popular it led to nearly two dozen other commissions or renovations in the valley. By now members of the Ausable Club and owning a house on Hulls Falls Road, Brad became an avid fly fisherman as Monica captured unique places they loved on canvas. Other pleasures included hosting small dinners with close friends and camping on Upper Ausable Lakes.
In many respects, his biggest challenge was retiring as a continual stream of requests kept Brad working well into his 80s. Today a collection of the drawings, papers and photographs of 15 architectural residential and private camp housing proposals undertaken by Brad from 1986 to 2008 is part of Adirondack Experience’s archive.
Brad and Monica loved border terriers. For relaxation, when not fishing, Brad did pottery in a small studio in the barn on their property and, on occasion, cranked up his Texas-style barbecue. Three years ago, they sold their Hulls Falls home and moved to an apartment in Montreal for two years. From there, they shifted to an apartment in Glens Falls so they could live near the Glens Falls Hospital.
Brad is survived by his wife Monica Lermont Bradbury; daughter Jessica Boyd of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, and her husband Dan Boyd and her son Robert Justin Hacker and daughter Charlotte Spangler; daughter Dorothy Claudia St. John and her sons Charles and Henry St. John; along with many dear friends. He was predeceased by his sister Doty.
A memorial service will be held this summer at the Keene Valley with the pastor, the Rev. John Sampson, officiating, date to be announced. If you wish to contribute in Brad’s name, please make it to the Keene Valley Library.