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The Bradford Legacy

Rev. Willie Douglas Sr. & Bernice Hearn Bradford

Rev. Willie Douglas Bradford, Sr. and Mrs. Bernice Hearn Bradford (affectionately called PaPa and MaMa by their grandchildren) met in Laurel, Mississippi at Oak Park High School when Rev. Willie Bradford moved from his birth city of Lumberton, Mississippi as a teenager. Rev. Bradford Sr. (Lovingly called “Willie D”) by his siblings was born to the late Shedrick Bradford Sr. and Eva Mae Speights Bradford on August 4, 1929 was one of ten children; Shedrick Jr., James, Bertha, Curtis, William, Clifton, Bishop Cecil all deceased and two still living sisters, Merle Bolden and Olliestene Lofton. The family attended Sweet Beulah Baptist Church in Lumberton where they were faithful. 

Mrs. Bernice Bradford was born in Laurel, Mississippi on September 18, 1928 and was one of five children born to their parents Cleveland (Penny) Hearn and Alice Bollar Hearn. Her siblings were the late Cleveland Jr., Johnny, Ruby and one still living sister Alice Ruth McRae (James). 

Rev. and Mrs. Bradford, Sr. were married in Laurel, Mississippi while members of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church where the entire Hearn family were faithful and active members. Rev. Willie and Mrs. Bernice Bradford moved to Lumberton, Mississippi after their nuptials and then to New Orleans, Louisiana and joined Law Street Baptist Church under the pastorate of the Rev. Eddie B. Scott, Sr. While there, they met life long Christian friends and served at Law Street Baptist Church faithfully. Rev. Willie and Bernice were blessed with seven children, Rev. Gloria J. Ellis, Marvel L. Burrell (Craig), Pastor Willie D. Bradford Sr. (Sharon), Christopher L. Bradford (Joycelyn), Roderick Bradford Sr. (Nicole), Michele M. Ball (Leon), Chenelle N. Massenburg (Darryl) whom they taught to serve God, love Jesus, respect others, represent the family well, strive to be their best and utilize their talents to serve God and others. 

After receiving confirmation that he was called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ when their third child was a male; Rev. Bradford Sr. was ordained by the late Rev. Eddie B. Scott, St. and was later called to Pastor Christian Union Baptist Church in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, LA. Always faithfully serving by his side, Mrs. Bernice Bradford (also known as Sis. Bradford) and Pastor Bradford worked tirelessly to elevate Christian Union Baptist Church spiritually, financially, and physically by faithfully teaching the principles of the Bible. 

Pastor Bradford Sr. was always bi-vocational and a hard worker. He had a clothes cleaning business in the early years of their marriage and then worked full time at Sears Department Store and part time for a black own cleaners. Mrs. Bradford worked various jobs but always put her family first. Mrs. Bernice Bradford worked as customer service clerk at Gayle’s Black owned Christian Book and Music Store. Rev. Bradford Sr. retired from Sears after many years and Mrs. Bradford retired from Gayle’s Music & Book Store. 

Pastor Bradford Sr. continued to serve as Pastor of Christian Union Baptist Church, and as a leader of The First District Association, the National Baptist Convention, a faculty member of the Union Baptist Seminary, a member of several community committees and a member of Prince Hall Grand Lodge. Mrs. Bernice and Pastor Willie Bradford Sr. opened their home to many church and family fellowships. Mrs. Bradford served in leadership roles at Christian Union Baptist Church, First District Missionary Association, Women’s Auxiliary, Pastor Wives of First District and a kind neighbor. 

Rev. and Mrs. Bradford loved their children and adored their grandchildren. They were known by their generous and giving hearts. Both Rev. and Mrs. Bradford were impeccable and fashionable dressers and God blessed them with beautiful cars and homes. Mrs. Bradford was a talented home decorator and an awesome cook. She had the gift of hospitality.  Pastor Willie Bradford Jr. was appointed Assistant Pastor of Christian Union Baptist Church and he took over more extensive pastoral duties and maintained the church even after Rev. Bradford Sr. experienced health challenges and the Bradford family and the church members were disbursed all over the United States after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.Rev. Willie and Sister. Bernice Bradford lived in Indianapolis, IN after Katrina. Sister Bradford went to be with the Lord while living in Indianapolis on May 19, 2007 and Rev. Bradford Sr. went to his heavenly rest in Indianapolis in December 2011. They both were greatly loved by their church families in Indianapolis: Charity Christian Center and New Beginnings Fellowship Church. Rev. and Mrs. Bradford Sr. were both brought back to New Orleans after their deaths and were given Grand Homegoing Celebration Services. 


Rev. Willie Douglas Bradford Sr. and Mrs. Bernice Hearn Bradford leave a Godly and proud legacy of 7 children, 26 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and 6 great-great grandchildren and a Christian impact on thousands!!

© 2024 Bradford Family Gathering | All Rights Reserved |

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