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Tom Bradley

October 04, 1998

Re "Mayor Who Reshaped L.A. Dies," Sept. 30: Armed with an avalanche of medicine and directions, Tom Bradley and I went on vacation late last month on a cruise of Alaska. My instructions were simple: make sure he did not get a cold, become fatigued, stay up too late or eat ice cream.

During the cruise, Mayor Bradley stayed up late, got tired, ate ice cream and baked Alaska in particular, but he did take his medicine on time. It was clear that he loved his life, movies, sports and the recognition and the admiration he saw in the eyes of the passengers and their warm greetings. Every morning, he insisted that I read him the wire stories on President Clinton, and he danced with the ladies on the ship.

The specialness of this man included his total lack of phoniness, his genuine affection for people, his great spirit and enthusiasm. Tom never complained, even when he became so sick.

On the return flight, the stewardess walked up to Mayor Bradley and said that we would be arriving at "his terminal" at LAX. Tom said, "OK," clearly and distinctly, put his thumb up, gave his famous smile with the twinkle in his eyes and looked out the window with the greatest pride and sense of satisfaction at Los Angeles.

I am convinced that had Tom been able to talk in the last two years of his life, he would have said unequivocally and without hesitation that the greatest honor of his life was to serve this great city and its people.


Los Angeles


Mayor Bradley had a razor-sharp sense of humor, which was most often exercised in private. Here is an example I fondly recall: In the late 1970s Bradley, who had distinguished himself as a UCLA athlete, attended a USC luncheon honoring a musician from the campus. That he made no reference to the USC-UCLA rivalry was not surprising, because this was neither the time nor the place for such banter.

After the program Bradley, USC President John Hubbard, who had an almost fanatical devotion to the Trojan football team, and I, the director of public information for USC, walked to his car. The three of us were chatting about nothing in particular when Bradley turned to the USC president and said something like this: Jack, I certainly hope that someday you will have a university of which your football team can be proud. Bradley smiled, got in the car and left, while I stood there fighting to maintain my composure.

To say he was an impressive politician and man would be redundant and belaboring the obvious. He did, however, help create a city of which millions of us were able to feel proud.


Beverly Hills


My mother, Dr. Ruth A. Boak, called Mayor Bradley "insightful, open-minded, a brilliant speaker and an excellent leader." She claimed she based her more refined assessments of his character on working with him: Mayor Bradley, a dedicated Democrat, had appointed her as a Los Angeles Civil Service commissioner. "Any Democrat who would appoint me, a grumpy, cranky die-hard Republican, to his decision-making body, would have to be a uniquely gifted humanist," she said.


Long Beach

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