Robert Bradner, beloved brother, father and grandfather, died peacefully on Monday, November 2, 2020. Born in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1932 to Louise and William M. Bradner, Bob was a man who remained faithful to the family, values and institutions in which he was raised.
A son of an Episcopal priest, Bob grew up in New England spending every summer at his family’s home in Rhode Island. Bob sang as a boy chorister at St. Martins Church in Providence and at St. Albans in Washington D.C., and his love for choral music remained with him always. Over more than 40 years as a parishioner at Christ Church in Winnetka, Illinois, Bob served on the vestry, led searches and oversaw building plans. He acted as church historian and proud bass in the choir. With the choir he traveled to York Minster where he sang with two of his grandchildren, a memory he cherished for the rest of his life.
Bob graduated from Holderness School in Plymouth, New Hampshire, and from Yale University in 1953 with a degree in English. He earned a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from Northwestern University in 1959, placing first in his class and winning the prestigious Harrington Award in the magazine field.
After serving in the U.S. Army, Bob moved to Chicago to work for R.R. Donnelly & Sons. As a young North Sider, Bob jumped into the 42nd Ward Young Republicans where he served as president and, more importantly, where he met his future wife, Jeanne. Together they formed a bond over civic engagement that was a cornerstone of their 54-year marriage.
The Bradners moved to Winnetka in 1968 where Bob served on numerous public boards and acted as campaign manager for Brian Duff in his successful bids for state representative. Perhaps Bob’s biggest role in politics was as a supporter of his wife in all her political activities. Bob was his wife’s confidante, cheerleader, steadfast supporter and chief of staff. Their common belief in the importance of good government, participation and Robert’s Rules of Order informed everything they did.
Bob was equally dedicated in his volunteer work for Yale University. He served first as an alumni interviewer, later serving as a delegate to the AYA (Association of Yale Alumni) and then as chair of the AYA. In 2001 he received Yale’s highest volunteer honor, the Yale Medal, as recognition of his service.
Bob spent the majority of his career at The U.S. League of Savings Association, the trade publishing arm of the Savings and Loan Industry where he served as magazine editor and ultimately publisher. Later, Bob launched his own imprint: Conversation Press, focused on creating an outlet for public policy discussion and thought leadership.
Bob was predeceased by his wife Jeanne in 2012 and his brother William Murray Bradner, Jr. in 2008. He is survived by his adored sister, Helen Reid; three children Anne, Robert (Jerilyn), Lisa (James Burnham) and seven grandchildren: Brian and Connor Gates; Hunter and Joe Lohman; Emily Bradner; and James and Kate Burnham.