Meet Jacqualine Bradley
Jacqualine Bradley came to stay with us at Caring House, and we were honored to welcome her and her family.
Jacqualine was born in Charlestown, West Virginia to Harvey and Katherine Hanson. She attended Stonewall Jackson High, where she loved to play basketball for the Salvation Army. She also began to study flower arranging, and although she loved the beautiful fields of West Virgina, she also craved adventure. She wanted to explore, to be free. On the day she turned 18, Jacqualine did exactly what she wanted to do – she loaded up the car and left her hometown. Her travels took her to many cities and states, from New Orleans to Louisiana, Texas to Kentucky.
Jacqualine finally landed in New York City to meet up with her sister, Joy. It was also in New York where her friend Maureen introduced her to a man named Allen MacDonnell. Allen and Jacqualine seemed very different at first glance, given his Scottish background and New York accent. Allen was also known to be very relaxed and calm, while Jacqualine was known to be a spitfire and speak her mind at every opportunity, but they both shared a great love of life and freedom. They hit it off and started stepping out together in the Big Apple. They even went to the famous Copacabana to see Sammy Davis, Jr. – they got in the back door and snuck through the kitchen!
Jacqualine was born way ahead of her time – she liked to “say it like it is” and challenge the status quo… so much so that when she told a local mobster what she thought of him, she and Allen had to leave New York City! They married in 1961, and in the same year, they welcomed their daughter Robin, followed by their son Lance three years later. Jacqualine and Allen eventually divorced, but they shared a love for each other that lasted a lifetime.
Jacqualine told her children at a very early age that they could do whatever they want and to always “go for the brass ring.” When her daughter Robin became a musician, Jacqualine came to support her at all her gigs, even if the drums were sometimes a little loud!
Since Jacqualine loved to live by the ocean, walking on the beach with the sun on her face, she and her children finally settled in Redondo Beach. She worked an eclectic mix of jobs – from florist to restaurant manager to dispatcher. While working as a dispatcher, she left her purse on the shop floor one day. That evening at home, a man named Joe Bradley knocked on her door and returned her purse to her. Joe was kind, gentle, and so caring. That knock opened the door to thirty years of love. Jacqualine and Joe eventually settled in Torrance, and she worked at Rolling Hills Country Club as bar manager. She also became a caretaker for her mother Katherine for thirteen years.
Jacqualine became Grandmother to Charles and Greyson. But she didn’t want to be called Grandma. Instead, she preferred Memaw. She loved going to Greyson’s baseball games and cheering him on, repeating her mantra to him – “you can do whatever you want.” She loved to dress up, put on one of her old time favorite jazz hits like Ella Fitzgerald or Tony Bennett, and have a party in the backyard, manning the BBQ grill. She also made the absolute best chicken and dumplings imaginable. And of course, she loved to laugh.
Jacqualine’s daughter Robin took over the mantle of caretaker for Jacqualine for her last four years. Robin also took the last photo of Memaw and grandson Greyson together visiting the Redondo Beach Pier – both with hot dogs on a stick and much laughter. Jacqualine valued honesty and courage so much so that just before she came to Caring House, she told Robin, “I believe this is my curtain call.”
Jacqualine was an old soul, cut from a different cloth, and she saw further than most. She never judged people, and she deeply valued charity and tithing, saying that giving to others helped her and brought her closer to her God. Now those values have been handed down to her children and grandchildren. As Jacqualine would tell them, “always take the high road.”
We like to think of Jacqualine now, laughing, with the sun on her face, still taking the high road, still going for the brass ring. She is greatly missed, but the memories she left behind also left a lasting impression on all who loved her.
Jacqualine passed away on January 30, 2022. Honor her. Remember her.