Elder William R. Bradford, emeritus General Authority Seventy, dies at 85

Elder William R. Bradford, emeritus General Authority Seventy, former president of the Houston Texas Temple and the Chile Santiago and Chile Santiago South missions, died on Jan. 24, 2019, in Bountiful, Utah. He was 85.

While serving as president of the Chile Santiago Mission, Elder Bradford was called to serve as a new member of the reconstituted First Quorum of the Seventy in October 1975. In that general conference, Elder Bradford bore his testimony, saying, “My father taught me not to be a toe-dipper, but to plunge in and bathe all over in the gospel.”

In a Nov. 1, 1975, Church News article, Elder Bradford shared how missionary work was a part of every aspect of his life. “I have spent most of my life in the mission field and I look forward to being a missionary for the rest of my life,” he said.

Born in Springville, Utah, to Rawsel W. and Mary Waddoups Bradford on Oct. 25, 1933, Elder Bradford moved to Hawaii at the age of 12 when his father served two missions there. His grandfather Bradford was a missionary in Hawaii in 1906, serving six years and doing considerable work on the temple there. His grandfather on his mother’s side, William M. Waddoups, served as the first president of the Laie Hawaii Temple from 1919-1930. He also served as a mission president in Hawaii, Samoa and New Zealand.

From that missionary atmosphere, “I learned that missionary work can only be done one way,” Elder Bradford said. “That is when a person will live his life in such a way that the Spirit can work through him and testify to others.”

Elder Bradford attended Brigham Young University before serving a mission in Japan from 1953-1955. When he returned, he met and married Mary Ann Bird. They are the parents of six children and have 28 grandchildren and 49 great-grandchildren.

Soon after they were married, Elder Bradford was called into military service and assigned to duty in Fort Devens, Massachusetts, for three years. They then moved to McAllen, Texas, where he and his brother established a citrus and truck garden farm. This business evolved into an import business that operated in Texas, Mexico and Central America.

Working along the border gave Elder Bradford the opportunity to learn Spanish and work with the Mexican-American people. In south Texas, he served as a member of a district presidency, district mission president and president of the McAllen Branch.

Elder Bradford served as president of the Chile Santiago and Chile Santiago South missions from 1975-1978.

"I am very impressed with Chile," he said. "The people are great. Their attitudes and the effort they are willing to make for a cause I have never found in a people before. They are dedicated to rebuilding their nation and they are filled with patriotism and desire."

In addition to these callings, Elder Bradford has also served as an assistant executive director of the Church's Curriculum Department, managing director, executive administrator and area supervisor. Following his release as a General Authority Seventy in 2003, Elder and Sister Bradford were called to serve as president and matron of the Houston Texas Temple from 2006-2009.

As a General Authority Seventy, Elder Bradford spoke nine times in general conference.

In April 1976, he spoke on following Christ’s pattern.

“To all of you within the sound of my voice who are not following the pattern of the Master, change,” he said. “Open your hearts to His love. Open your doors to His servants. Let them come into your homes and teach you what you must do to be like Him.”

In his last general conference address in October 1999, Elder Bradford counseled members to do all they can to become righteous.

“Striving to live righteously is attempting to do all that we can in obedience,” he said. “With this comes the inner peace and comfort that in doing all we can, the plan of God will be accomplished in our behalf. No other feeling in the soul of man can bring the joy and happiness than that of knowing you are doing all you can to become righteous.”

Funeral services will be held on Monday, Feb. 4, at 11:00 a.m. at the Eagleridge Ward meetinghouse, 351 Lofty Lane, North Salt Lake, Utah.

A public viewing will be held from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3, at Russon Brothers Mortuary, 295 Main Street, Bountiful, and Monday morning at the meetinghouse from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. prior to the funeral services.