Charles William Bradley
Feb. 11, 1937-Nov. 4, 2023
Palo Alto, CA
Charles William Bradley ("Charlie" or "Chuck") died peacefully on November 4, 2023 after a rapid decline from metastatic cancer. He was a devoted father, caring friend, tennis enthusiast, and teller of corny jokes.
Born on February 4, 1937 in Estes Park, CO, Charlie was raised in a working class neighborhood of St. Louis, MO with his younger brother Harry by their parents Donna Clark Bradley and Stephen Kemp Bradley, Jr. His paternal grandmother, a Unitarian minister, was also an important figure in his upbringing.
Charlie volunteered for the Air Force Reserves and was called to active duty in Europe during the Berlin Crisis of 1961-62. He enjoyed this chance to see the world outside the limited scope of his hometown.
Charlie graduated from Santa Clara University in 1969 and worked in sales and consulting in the computer industry for many years. In 1985, he published the book, “The Manager’s Guide to Small Business Computers.”
A job with Syntex had brought him to California, where he met Shannon Close. They married in 1965 and had two children, Bridget Claire Bradley (Gray) and Brendan Patrick Bradley. Charlie and Shannon divorced in 1980 but remained amicable co-parents over decades; despite their many differences, they respected and cared about each other as they continued their lives. Charlie had a very tough childhood and suffered from lifelong bouts of untreated depression; he found solace in raising a family with the loving care his own father did not provide him. His children and former wife deeply respect his effort to make the best of the path he set forward. He was always supportive, caring, and honorable.
As a father, Charlie was particularly interested in fostering his children’s curiosity in science and new technologies, from making home movies with the earliest home video camera, to whale watching, to viewing the night sky through the huge telescope at Lick observatory. He wrote to the California Governor’s office to obtain passes to do so.
Charlie enjoyed activities with his children. He rode every roller coaster at Great America with Brendan and ran the San Francisco Bay to Breakers many years with Bridget. In recent years, he was a proud grandfather to Bridget’s four children, Andrew, Brendan, Cameron and Ellie.
An avid tennis player for most of his adult life, Charlie managed a Saturday morning tennis group in Palo Alto, coordinating regular weekly play with dozens of members over many years. He sent newsletters and organized parties with the group.
He was handy and knowledgeable about architecture and construction; in 2003-4 he designed and built his own home in Palo Alto.
In 2009, Charlie met Grace Muchmore and they became loving partners for a dozen years. Grace developed Alzheimer’s, and he became her primary caretaker for several years until her death in 2021. They lived in Napa, CA for most of their time together.
Charlie loved music, from Frank Sinatra to Simon & Garfunkel, and had a good singing voice. He was a talented ice skater, effortless on the ice, which he showed at the soup-and-skating parties he and Shannon hosted in Palo Alto. With a pointed nose and sandy brown hair, Charlie’s celebrity doppelgangers were King Charles and Dan Quayle. He loved cars and took meticulous care of his own cars, including retaining the plastic wrap protection on the inside of a new Toyota in 1972… for years. Yet, his younger brother remembers Charlie loaning him his beloved 1957 black hardtop convertible Thunderbird for Harry to use for his drivers’ license test.
He could be grouchy, but he also showed remarkable patience. He grew up in a city of deep segregation but did not hold prejudices. In retirement, he took it upon himself to study the roots of happiness and teach this in a course at the local community college – ever hopeful about finding his own contentment. He was scrappy and stubborn and funny and kind.