Bradford still rolling at 85

KateLynn Slaamot

On Aug. 11, Frances Bradford celebrated her 85th birthday, surrounded by many friends and family. The celebration took place at the Masonic Lodge, and about 100 people were in attendance. Bradford was born on Aug. 14, 1933, in Rosebud, South Dakota, and spent much of her childhood on a ranch.

Bradford spent a lot of time assisting her parents with ranching chores and greatly enjoyed riding horses. She started first grade in Nenzel, Nebraska. Her family later moved to Mission, South Dakota, where she lived on a ranch outside of Mission and attended school there. 

“I enjoyed going to school in Mission,” Bradford said. However, when she was in fourth grade, she contracted scarlet fever and was absent from school for a year, until she recovered. She eventually attended high school in Fort Pierre, South Dakota. After graduating, she married Roland Bradford in 1951. The couple first lived in Parmelee, South Dakota, where Roland’s family operated a post office.  

While living in Parmelee, Bradford said, she had two children. Both were born in Valentine, Nebraska, where the closest hospital at the time was located – about 53 miles away. Bradford, along with her husband and two children, moved to Clareton, Wyoming, in 1953, where they operated a grocery store until 1975. Three more children were born while the family lived in Clareton. In 1969, Bradford lost her husband to an unfortunate truck accident. She continued to raise her children on her own, she said.

“I raised them (children) until they got out of high school,” said Bradford. She then moved to Newcastle in 1975, where she worked at Decker’s Food Market, which was Get N’ Go at that time, and was also involved in a bowling league for a while. 

“I trucked over the road for 13 years,” Bradford said. She got involved in trucking in 1989, although as a child, she had dreamed of becoming a nurse. She worked for a company called Mercer Transportation, located in Louisville, Kentucky, and hauled “anything a flatbed could haul.” 

“I was in every state but Alaska,” Bradford said. By driving for the company, she said, she had an opportunity she wouldn’t normally have had to travel through most of the country, and she hopes to one day visit Alaska. She told the News Letter Journal that she took great pleasure in working for Mercer Transportation, and misses it since she retired in 2003. 

Over the years, life has indeed changed for Bradford, and she jokingly added that she thought she was young, up until her 85th birthday

“I’m doing good,” Bradford said. Although she had open heart surgery in 2003, Bradford still keeps up her home and yard and even owns a “belly-dump semi-truck” with her friend Brian Weeg, for which they have hired 13 different men to operate. 

Bradford’s children are all married, she said, and she now has 10 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.


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