“Jeri Bradley had a profound and positive impact on Culpeper!” – Gary Close, Culpeper Commonwealth Attorney
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
What will be the ultimate legacy of Jeri Bradley in the future of Culpeper and Virginia?
On January 15, I was very sad to discover that Jeri Bradley had died the day before. Not only did Jeri have a profound and positive impact on Culpeper, but on me as well. Thanks to Jeri and her husband Al Gaige, I was able to host “A Life of Blessing” on their local B&G TV station from Nov 2004 thru Nov 2005. The interviews I did on that show opened many doors of opportunity. Pray Culpeper and this devotional are just some of the fruit from that.
In her Jan 15 front page article titled “Jeri Bradley dies of cancer,” Allison Brophy Champion wrote:
“She (Jeri) was a respected public figure who led a mostly private life. It was other people’s stories that she wanted to tell and she did it with style and professionalism. Jeri Bradley did it her way. The dark-haired local TV personality and broadcaster died from cancer Monday in her Culpeper home. Bradley was diagnosed with the illness in September. She would have turned 60 next week.
To the very end, Bradley was dedicated to her work. It was what she loved. A mother of two daughters and grandmother of four, Bradley also deeply loved her family; her parents were living with her when she died. Bradley and her husband, Al Gaige – the man behind the camera – celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary January 2.
In August, even as she was preparing for surgery, they launched an educational television station in partnership with the George Washington Carver Training Center on U.S. 15. ‘Now is the fun part,’ she said at the time of the station’s unveiling. ‘We want to make this the heartbeat of our community.’”
When I learned Jeri’s funeral was going to be a private one, I emailed Al Gaige to ask for permission to attend. He gladly invited me. The thought that went through my mind is that a grain of wheat must first die to yield 100 grains of wheat. Jeri sowed so many positive seeds into our community while co-managing Culpeper’s first local TV station, that we will see an abundant harvest from those in the next few years. I believe her final legacy in the future of Culpeper and Virginia will be much greater than while she lived.
This morning I had the privilege to attend Jeri’s memorial service at the Clore-English Funeral Home. Al told me he had received more than 1,000 emails from friends of Jeri this week. I was deeply moved by the many personal testimonies of people richly blessed by Jeri. Chris Lindsey moderated this service. I learned that he married Al and Jeri 8 years ago. Chris told Jeri’s family and friends we were here for a “celebration.”
After David Gilmore played his guitar and sang a touching song, we watched Al’s short DVD titled “Celebration of a Life … Jeri Bradley.” One person on that DVD described Jeri as a voice of reason. Another person said Jeri used to say a child needs 3 things – love, time, and respect.
Next, Bob Beard honored Jeri. He told how Al and Jeri adopted his family when they first moved to Culpeper 9 years ago. He read a letter from Dr. David Cox, superintendent of Culpeper School Public Schools. Dr. Cox described Jeri as always focused on quality, both the interviews and the TV set. He said his own life has been richer because he knew her and she was his friend.
Next came testimonies from Emily and Nancy Beard (Bob’s daughters), Michael Antoletti, (Jeri’s son-in-law), and Gary Close (Culpeper Commonwealth Attorney). Gary began by using simple words to describe Jeri such as infectious laugh, adventurous, honest. He said Jeri loved life and lived her life to the fullest. She did that by investing in family, friends, and community. Gary said, “Jeri had a profound and positive impact on Culpeper.” She asked tough questions, but allowed you to say what you wanted. She helped establish a quality local TV station.
David Martin told “The story behind the story” – how he had helped the Culpeper Town Council approve the new cable TV station in 1996. Allison Brophy Champion shared how Jeri had made a big difference in her life. On the last day that Allison saw Jeri in December 2007, Jeri told her, “I miss people having a voice.” Next, Pam Jenkins, former Culpeper Town Councilwoman, paid a great tribute to Jeri.
Finally, Erica, Jeri’s oldest daughter, read a stirring letter she had written about her mother when Erica was only 18 years old. From that letter I learned that Jeri had been a wonderful stay-at-home mom during the entire time both her daughters were growing up and that she made family meals every day.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the profound and positive impact that Jeri Bradley had on me and the Culpeper community. I pray that you will keep alive Jeri’s dream to make the educational television station at the George Washington Carver Training Center the heartbeat of our community. May we see a 100 fold return on all the good seeds that Jeri and Al have sown in the past decade. Thank You Jesus. Amen and hallelujah!
Links of the Day
Photos from memorial service for Jeri Bradley
“Jeri Bradley dies of cancer” – Culpeper Star Exponent newspaper article on Jan 15, 2008 – see below
Jeri Bradley dies of cancer
http://www.starexponent.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=CSE%2FMGArticle%2FCSE_MGArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173354216198&path=!newsAllison Brophy Champion
Tuesday, January 15, 2008Jeri Bradley is seen interviewing Nick Paxton at a 2004 DestiNation Imagination performance. Bradley would have turned 60 next week. (CSE File Photo)
She was a respected public figure who led a mostly private life. It was other people’s stories that she wanted to tell and she did it with style and professionalism.Jeri Bradley did it her way.
The dark-haired local TV personality and broadcaster died from cancer Monday in her Culpeper home. Bradley was diagnosed with the illness in September. She would have turned 60 next week.
To the very end, Bradley was dedicated to her work. It was what she loved.
A mother of two daughters and grandmother of four, Bradley also deeply loved her family; her parents were living with her when she died.
Bradley and her husband, Al Gaige – the man behind the camera – celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary January 2.
In August, even as she was preparing for surgery, they launched an educational television station in partnership with the George Washington Carver Training Center on U.S. 15.
“Now is the fun part,” she said at the time of the station’s unveiling. “We want to make this the heartbeat of our community.”
Indeed, Bradley knew how to get people to open up.
She began her on-air career in local radio – today’s WJMA of Orange – in 1994. Bradley was Gaige’s news director and the two did a morning show together.
In 1996, the couple took over as station managers at Culpeper Channel 21, the government-run cable access station.
Here, she and Gaige coined the phrase, “That Culpeper Feeling,” and made it into a slice-of-life program – the station’s flagship show for many years.
“To us, ‘That Culpeper Feeling’ is the essence of Culpeper, where friends take care of friends. It’s a wonderful community spirit,” Bradley said in an April 2006 interview.
In 2002, Bradley and Gaige left Channel 21, branching out into their own television enterprise with the creation of B>V and Channel 23. Broadcasting from a new, home-based studio, they went on the air in April 2003, ever devoted to sharing Culpeper’s stories.
Bradley never shied from asking the tough questions either, and many a local, state and national politician passed through her studio, perhaps sweating a bit under the bright lights. By mid-2006, B>V had produced more than 250 original shows. It went off the air in May of that year as the production end of the business took off – creating documentaries, corporate videos, interpretative historic videos, etc.
Bradley always did the talking. Gaige preferred to stay behind the camera.
As she reflected on the 10-year anniversary of “That Culpeper Feeling” in 2006, Bradley talked about Brandy, a little girl she had met a decade prior at Camp Fantastic, a summer retreat for children with cancer.
“It took every ounce of my being not to cry because here you have this 15-year-old struggling with cancer and yet she’s so wise,” Bradley said. “The next year we went back and she was gone.”
Wayne English, funeral director at Clore-English Funeral Home of Culpeper, considered her a friend. He is handling her final arrangements though the funeral will be private.
“Her vitality,” English said when asked for what Bradley would be remembered.
“Kicking up her cowboy boots and walking in the wind with her beautiful black mane just flowing,” he said of how he’d remember her. “That and the love she had for her kids, her family.”
Jeri was a great friend, said Chip Coleman, head of Culpeper Human Services, and not just because, “She was always right on top of the issues.”
“One of my most fun things to do was have lunch at her house; she was a great cook,” he said Monday night. “She would fix steak salad, bleu cheese dressing, and a group of us would just talk politics. For hours.”
That was her style.
Allison Brophy Champion can be reached at 825-0771 ext. 101 or email@example.com
Joseph Peck, M.D.
The Time Doctor
Author, I Was Busy, Now I’m Not
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