Friday, November 17, 2017
First Lady of Los Angeles Ethel Bradley Succumbs
By Sentinel News Service
Published November 27, 2008

Co-Founder of Los Angeles Black Woman's Forum and former first lady of Los Angeles and wife of the Mayor Thomas Bradley, Mrs. Ethel Arnold Bradley passed away on Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at Kaiser Cadillac Hospital. Mrs. Bradley was born on February 9, 1919. She married Thomas Bradley, whom she had met at church as a teenager, in 1941. The son of share-croppers, Thomas Bradley was from a less socially prominent family than Ethel. Bradley worked as a police officer and earned a law degree. The couple (Thomas and Ethel) had two surviving daughters, Phyllis and Lorraine, and one who died in infancy.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa when contacted regarding Mrs. Bradley's passing stated "Today all of Los Angeles mourns the passing of its long-time, revered First Lady, Ethel Bradley."

"She served the City of Los Angeles with dignity and class throughout her life and we will remember her as a woman of grace, with a supreme commitment to her family, a tireless community spirit and the Dodgers' biggest fan."

Thomas Bradley's political career began when he was elected to the City Council, where he represented the 10th Councilmatic District, one of the first two African Americans to be elected to the City Council in modern times. Bradley ran in two racially charged campaigns for mayor and finally unseated the conservative Democrat Sam Yorty in 1973, becoming the first African American Mayor of Los Angeles. Over the next twenty years, which included two campaigns for governor, Ethel Bradley would provide leadership to the community as a sophisticated, well grounded, gracious, humanitarian as the much beloved and well respected First Lady of Los Angeles.  Besides being a devoted fan of The Los Angeles Dodgers she is also known for cultivating beautiful flower gardens at the Getty Mansion, the Mayor's official residence. Ethel Bradley organized the women's volunteer corps, Las Angelenas, and was a co-founder of the Black Women's Forum. In 1992, Bradley decided not to run for re-election. He joined the downtown law offices of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, but a heart attack followed by a stroke in 1996 left him unable to speak clearly for the rest of his life. In 1998, Bradley died of a heart attack. Many of Thomas Bradley's artifacts and memorabilia were donated by Ethel Bradley to the California African American Museum in 2000.  Former City Councilmember Nate Holden who followed Bradley as the representative of the 10th Council District said "This is a lost not only to her friends and family but a lost to the entire City of Los Angeles." "Ethel Bradley was a resource to the history of this city and as the first African American to serve as first lady she served her husband and the city with Courage, perseverance and worked to serve the entire city, she will truly be missed".

When notified of her passing long time family friend and Board Member of the Tom and Ethel Bradley Foundation Willis Edwards stated "She was the first ladies first lady, she loved life and always cared for others especially the education of our children".

In 2003, The Tom and Ethel Bradley Foundation was established, with the goals of honoring the legacy of both Bradley's and encouraging individuals to become responsible citizens. The Ethel Bradley Early Education and Health Career Center opened in Los Angeles in 2006. Unveiled by the Los Angeles Unified School District and envisioned by the co-founders of the Black Women's Forum, this center was designed to provide training, employment and childcare to the community. Longtime Community Activist and personal friend of Mrs. Bradley said that "Ethel Bradley was a true inspiration to all woman. She always carried herself with class and dignity and was a demonstration not only Los Angeles but to the world the true elegance that African Americans woman have always been about".

Funeral Arrangements have not yet been made and there is no additional information on her arrangement. Go to for more and up to date information on her passing and funeral arrangements.


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