John R. Bradley Memorial Endowment managed by the Healthcare Foundation of Southern New Mexico
Strong will, big heart benefit our community long-term
By Annette Paajanen
Appearances can be deceiving is an old adage that too many of us don't follow in these days of short attention spans. The world seems to operate often under first impressions. However, as anyone who got to know John R. Bradley could attest, we should get out of the habit of judging too quickly. There definitely was more to him than met the eye.
John was a lifelong farmer who grew chile just northwest of Las Cruces. He was a quiet, strong-minded man who lived a rather Spartan life, had never married and had no living family members. His signature outfit was denim bib overalls, which he wore everywhere.
While he did lead a quiet life without much in the way of social interaction, this didn't mean that he lacked for connections in the community. It took a while for people to earn his trust but, once that happened, the bond was strong and lifelong.
John came to be familiar with the Healthcare Foundation of Southern New Mexico (formerly the Memorial Medical Center Foundation) through a couple of connections. One was through one of the Foundation trustees, Jess Lydick. John, who apparently placed a lot of trust in Jess, periodically bought pickup trucks from Jess, and only from him.
The other connection was as a patient of the Memorial Medical Center. Foundation staff, who routinely visit Memorial Medical Center patients, met him when delivering the standard sugar-free-candy-filled glass welcome mug. During the ensuing conversation, John apparently came to feel comfortable with the Foundation staff.
Over the years, Jess -- along with Foundation staff members -- would occasionally visit John, meeting him at the Arrey Café for his favorite meal of enchiladas. On one visit, which the Foundation staff knew to be John's birthday, they brought along a small birthday cake to celebrate. This gesture particularly touched John, who broke out in tears, saying that no one had ever celebrated his birthday before.
This strong-willed man obviously had a soft heart, which showed in his resolution to support the Foundation. It was during a hospitalization when John was quite ill that he called in his lawyer and had his will made out so that one of his farms would be donated to the Foundation. His other farm he marked for donation to the New Mexico State University Foundation. In return for the donations, he received tax benefits.
When the farm eventually was sold in September of 1993, the Board of Trustees of the Foundation created the John R. Bradley Memorial Endowment with the proceeds of $320,000. Annually, per John's wishes, the Trustees will determine the use of the distributable income for a health-related purpose in our community.
Since the policy of the Foundation is to have funds carefully and professionally managed to ensure that endowments last indefinitely, the principal from the sale of the John's farm will never be touched. Only earned interest is used, with 3 percent of it distributed every year by the Board according to the wishes of the donors, and 1 percent going to the Foundation to cover administrative costs. John's generous donation of his farm will continue to provide monies annually that benefit heath care programs in this area well into the future.
By the end of 2007, principal in the endowment had grown to more than $377,000 and almost $12,000 in funds was distributed to health care programs. That's certainly a legacy that would have surprised those who go only on first impressions -- and one that would most definitely have appealed to Mr. Bradley's soft heart.
The Healthcare Foundation of Southern New Mexico is a supporting organization of the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico (CFSNM).