By GALE M. BRADFORD
Special to the Democrat
A Weatherford man instrumental in restoration of the historical Chandor Gardens died Wednesday, Aug. 7, at a Fort Worth hospital.
Charles Bradford was born April 11, 1934, in Petrolia. He served in the United States Army two years and was a business major at Texas Christian University. Over the years, Bradford had many successful business ventures. He was a stock broker, invested in self-service car washers, storage warehouses in seven states and later studied ranch management at TCU. That study brought him and his family to the Aledo area, where he raised cutting horses for 25 years.
Friend and neighbor Jamie Bodiford Brinkley said the Bradfords discovered the gardens when they were students at TCU. The historical 3.5-acre garden was developed by famed English portrait artist Douglas Chandor who came to Texas after he married Ina Kuteman, of Weatherford, in 1935. Chandor’s talent was sought worldwide, and some of his subjects included the young Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
When Bradford and his wife, Melody, purchased Chandor Gardens in 1995, the property had been unattended and overgrown for 20 years. She said restoring the gardens and home was the greatest challenge they ever faced and they spent years clearing and cleaning the debris of decades of neglect..
Brinkley said the Bradfords’ work was a labor of love and was very well done.
“When I think of Chuck Bradford, three words come to mind – integrity, style and class – whether it is with his business endeavors, Chandor Gardens or his personal life and family. Chuck’s philosophy was doing things the right way and first class,” Brinkley said.
Longtime friend and former schoolmate John Campbell agreed with Brinkley’s sentiments and described Mr. Bradford as a great man with a good sense of humor. “Chuck was a very honorable man,” Campbell said.
The Bradfords sold the gardens to the City of Weatherford in 2002. Karen Nantz is facility coordinator for the city and described Mr. Bradford’s humor saying that after the gardens reopened to the public, he would sometimes help give guided tours to visiting groups and he would embellish on its history.
“He would improvise and actually make things up sometimes. He had an incredible sense of humor and always had a twinkle in his eye,” Nantz said.
“All of the citizens of Weatherford owe a debt of gratitude to the Bradfords for their insight and incredible preservation of Chandor Gardens,” Brinkley said, noting that the gardens received a historical marker from the Texas Historical Commission this year.
“Their legacy lives on,” Brinkley said.
A memorial service for Charles Leland “Chuck,” Bradford, 79, is 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, at Chandor Gardens, 711 West Lee Ave., in Weatherford was Bishop Jack Leo Iker officiating. Memorials may be made to All Saints Episcopal Church, 123 South Waco, Weatherford, TX, 76086, or the charity of choice.
Bradford is survived by his wife of 50 years, Melody, of Weatherford; son, Charles Leland Bradford Jr. and wife, Roslyn, of Brenham; daughter, Murray Allen Bradford, of San Antonio; granddaughters, Chandler Lenoir Bradford and Melody Merrick Bradford, both of Brenham; and brother, George David Bradford and wife, Cindy, of Crowley, plus many nieces and nephews.