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September 21, 1906 -1997
A tribute by Joe, John's son.
When someone is selected to win an award, the first instinct is to list all
of their accomplishments and prior awards, detailing what they have done
(for the community, etc.)
In the case of John Bradway, it feels more appropriate to focus on his values. To John, the most important thing in his life, was his Christian conversion and the life values that he felt followed from that.
He was known for great personal integrity, honest dealing in all matters with all people and giving a helping hand whenever and wherever and however he could.
He also was known for his family values, and how he loved and nurtured his wife and children.
Many people found him to be an outstanding example of how a life should be lived in today's world.
John's devotion to his church was well recognized in the community.
He served for many years in the Port Norris Baptist church as a Deacon and a Trustee.
He also sang in the choir and taught Sunday School.
One of his great joys was seeing a young person who "got it", and had consequent positive changes in his or her life.
As one of John's sons, I am enormously proud of how passionately and faithfully he lived his values. I think the most compelling testimonials
for John are the people, of all ages, on whom he exerted such a positive
and nurturing influence.
JOHN BRADWAY, PORT NORRIS LEGEND
John Woolard Bradway was born September 21, 1906 in a modest farmhouse in Port Norris, NJ. Throughout the years, virtually every time we drove by that farmhol!se, he would say proudly, "There's the house where I was born." His parents were Edward and Mary Bradway. Brothers were William, Frank, Joseph and Edward. Sisters included Ella, Laura and Virginia.
He grew up on the family farm in Port Norris. The family was very poor. When I was a child, I remember John (my father) frequently telling stories about helping his mother make Christmas wreaths every winter. The family's entire Christmas was provided only by the profit from the homemade wreaths. Some years everyone just got an apple for Christmas.
John dropped out of High School in 10th grade to help the family out by working on the·farm. Soon he moved on to working on oyster boats with his brother Joe. A little while later, the two brothers went to work for Atlantic City Electric Company, reading meters. John was living in Bridgeton, NJ at that time. He also supplemented his income selling Sanitizer Vacuum Cleaners.
John also made another crucial decision during his young adult years which became central to the way he lived his life. At a tent meeting led by a travelling evangelist, he had a conversion experience, leading him to focus his life on his faith and personal practice of Christianity.
He married Eveiyn Shull on June 6, 1932. Their son, John Jr., was born February 23, 1933. Sadly, Evelyn died February 26, 1933 due to a post partum infection. The family has preserved a letter written by John a few days after Evelyn's death, showing simply and clearly how he had loved her and grieved for her.
Although there was a time when he would have found it hard to believe, John did soon find happiness again with a young school teacher, Marguerite Doughty. During the collftship period, she recalled praying for God to not let her love him because she didn't think it was possible he would be interested in her. He was praying at the same time for God to make her love him, John was not above helping God out a little. He also told of hiding behind trees near her house and waiting til she came out to begin walking to church. Then he would appear and say someething like, "Oh what a coincidence! I just happened to be coming along at the same time you came out. May I walk you to church.?" John married Marguerite on June 20, 1934. John and Marguerite had a son, Joseph, born on July 5, 1935.
John was shortly promoted by Atlantic City Electric Company to office manager in Tuckerton, NJ. This was considered an excellent job, as he made over $20 per week throughout the rest of the Great 8epression. The family was still living in Tuckerton when daughter Sharon was born on April 21, 1947.
In 1950, the family moved to Port Norris so John could manage Port Norris Oyster Company, which had been purchased by his brother Joe. Shortly after John began running the oyster company, the entire oyster business in the area, including Port Norris Oyster Company, was challenged by the MSX epidemic., which killed off as many as 95% of the area's oysters by the time it was characterized in 1957.
Nevertheless, he was able to keep the business solvent for many years, contributing to keeping many jobs in the area. He also was known by all his workers as being someone who would listen compassionately to theire troubles and do what he could to help. People could and did ring his doorbell at all hours of the day and night to talk to him. He was affectionately known throughout the town as Cap'n John. When one man from Port Norris was explaining to another who I was, it was always as "Cap'n John's girl."
John's Christian faith was the cornerstone of his belief system. A big part of what drew Marguerite to him was his teaching of a weeknight Bible class she attended. Before returning to Port Norris, John had already spent severael months as interim pastor at Shipbottom, HJ Methodist Church while they were between pastors. Later, while living in Port Norris, he filled various pulpits fairly frequently, while the pastors were ill or on vacition or taking leave.
John and Marguerite joined Port Norris Baptist Church shortly after moving to Port Norris. John remained an active member the rest of his life. He served as Deacon, Trustee and church clerk. He sang in the choir and taught the young adult Sunday School class. He filled all these positions for many years. John also enjoyed visiting with people confined to nursing homes to cheer them up and let them know someone cared about them.
Another very sad time in his life came when his first son, John Jr., had widespread cancer and died in 1970.
John continued to run Port Norris Oystser Company until the early 1970's. After he and Marguerite both retired, they were able to enjoy an active time together for several years. They co!1tinued to serve the community and the church. They travelled around visiting their children and grandchildren.
Another very difficult chapter in John's life was when Marguerite became ill in 1979 and died of Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS) in January of 1980. They had been married 45 1/2 years.
John still had another important chapter of his life remaining. In January of 1984, he married Alberta Garrison, also of Port Norris. They had some good years together, in which they continued to be able to serve the church and the community.
Although he was ill for the last few years of his life, he enjoyed robust health most of his life, well into his eighties, and lived to the age of 91, just 3 months shy of 92. At this point in tirne (September of 2017), he has 2 surviving children, 5 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren (not counting any of Alberta's descendants).
We will all remember him as a man deserving of love and admiration who had.a long life, well- lived.
Thank you for recognizing him as a Port Norris Loegend.
Sharon Eder - Cap'n John's girl
Presented at the dinner by PNHS VP Richard Smith
Photos:Courtesy of Sharon Elder John's daughter.