Monday, May 21, 2018
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James Bradford 1943-2012: Interest in photography led to career for educator

James Bradford, whose interest in photography bloomed into a career that focused on using technology to communicate clearly, died of congestive heart failure Saturday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio on South Detroit Avenue. He was 68.

"He really had a gift for teaching and getting information across to people," his wife, Debbie, said.

Mr. Bradford of South Toledo had coronary artery disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Crohn's disease. He retired in 2009 from Bowling Green State University, where he led a distance-learning program in the college of technology for students who have an associate's degree and work experience. He was hired in 2002.

"Jim was, No. 1, very smart, just extremely bright and sensitive to people," said Gary Benjamin, a colleague who now leads the advanced technology education program.

Students in the program often need encouragement as they juggle jobs, family duties, and education. Some are in the military, deployed to Afghanistan and going to school by laptop.

"Our students are very unique," Mr. Benjamin said. "They're quite capable, but they have all of the adult issues of everyday life. He was sensitive to the student body, but also to the faculty he worked with."

He was hired in the late 1970s by Medical College of Ohio and was director of audiovisual media and technology. One interest was to bring technology-friendly design to conference rooms, lecture halls, even patients' rooms on the then-new campus. He also led a regular program for physicians, "Next Slide, Please," in which he instructed doctors on putting together effective slide programs in their field.

He was born Sept. 29, 1943, in Somerville, Mass., to Winifred and Leonard Bradford. He grew up in Arlington and Wayland, Mass., and was a 1961 graduate of Wayland High School. He learned about photography in his teens from his older brother, Arnold, and it "developed into an interest in communication, and visual communication in particular," Mr. Bradford once wrote.

He attended Wheaton College in Illinois and transferred to Ohio State University, from which he received a bachelor of science degree in anatomy and communication. He enrolled in a cadaver dissection "out of interest, not because he had to," his wife said.

He received a master of science degree and doctorate in educational technology from Ohio State. His first duties in medical educational technology came as a graduate student in Ohio State's college of veterinary medicine.

He was active in several professional organizations and was a former president of the Association of Communication Directors.

In 1986, he shifted to higher education. He was director of instructional technology for more than a decade at Illinois State University. He later helped set up an instructional technology program at Cleveland State University.

He was a member of Epworth United Methodist Church. In 1996, he went to Haiti with a team to visit a hospital the church supports. He documented his visit on video, which when home he edited and packaged so the congregation and the public would learn of Haitians' plight: "It was really life-changing for him," his wife said. "It was the first time he was immersed in a third-world culture."

Surviving are his wife, Debra, whom he married Jan. 22, 1983; daughters, Holly Thomas and Laurel Bruhl; stepson, Gary Bukwaz; brother, Arnold Bradford, and seven grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday in Epworth United Methodist Church. Arrangements are by the Walter Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio, the Alzheimer's Association of Northwest Ohio, or Epworth United Methodist Church.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.

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