Life's Passages

Byron Bradley

This is our favorite photo of Byron. We think it shows perfectly the sweet, kind man that we Bradleys were lucky enough to call husband, father, or brother. Byron Bradley was one of the kindest, gentlest, loving and most creative and resourceful people his family has ever met. No one alive has ever seen him get angry or lose his patience, and he always had time for his children. He installed a cast iron swingset in our back yard so his two daughters could play near their parents and when that was outgrown, he used the same swingset to pull the engines out of our cars so he could repair them for us.

He single-handedly built a glorious cabin on Lake Superior when, as a teacher at the Minneapolis School of Art (later the Minneapolis College of Art and Design), he was sent to Grand Marais by them to teach at their summer art colony in the early ’50s. When MCAD closed their art colony in the late ’50s, Byron and Birney Quick chose to keep it alive and became business partners, starting the Grand Marais Art Colony. Byron continued to teach at and run the GMAC with friend Harvey Turner after Birney’s death, finally selling the business and the building to the current nonprofit in the mid-’80s.

Also in the early ’50s, Byron and best friend Robert Kilbride started one of the first galleries in Minnesota, the Kilbride-Bradley Gallery in downtown Minneapolis. That business spawned KB Art Materials, for decades the best art material store this side of Chicago. Best because it was owned by a man who knew art in all its forms and could answer any questions you had and get you any materials you needed, and if he didn’t have the answers he would find them out for you: that was Byron.

When he retired at age 74 and closed KB, his next project was to build his and Emma’s retirement home with the help of a couple of local carpenters. When finished, he finally started to paint again and had his last show at the Johnson Heritage Post in 2008. He spent his retirement years enjoying the home he built and reading or working on one of his many projects.

Byron passed away on June 5, 2016, in the home he loved and surrounded by those most important to him: his family.

He was born in Anoka, Minnesota, on November 6, 1922, the middle child of Byron and Denice (Thibodeau) Bradley.

He was preceded in death by his parents and five brothers and sisters.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years Emma; daughters Sarah Métis and Lydia Bradley; brother Jack; sister-in-law Shirley and many, many nieces and nephews.

A memorial to celebrate Byron’s life is being held on Sunday, June 19, 2016, from 4-6 p.m. at the Grand Marais Art Colony.

Byron always supported the arts, whether it was opera, music, theater, dance or the fine arts, and he knew how important the arts and creativity are to the development of a healthy person and a healthy society. He was fortunate to obtain scholarships and sponsorship throughout his early life that made his study of the arts possible and he, in turn, helped others do the same. In honor of Byron, be kind. And take an art or music class, see a play, go to a concert, or gift a child an art class. Let’s all be like Byron.


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 Our deepest sympathies at this sad time.

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2016-06-18 digital edition


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