Don Frederick Bradshaw passed away on December 3, 2020 of natural causes. He joined his beloved wife Jean, who had passed away earlier this year. Don was able to celebrate a happy 94th birthday and final Thanksgiving with his family. He had just returned from spending time in St. George, Utah, with two of his sons and their wives, and had been enjoying video calls and chats with his other children and extended family throughout the holiday.
Don was the youngest of four Bradshaw children growing up in Salt Lake City’s Westminster and Gilmer Park neighborhoods. In the telling of his youth, Don described many adventures of growing up as the youngest child with lots of freedom to explore Salt Lake City in the 1930’s. This included the birds and swinging bridges of Allen Park near Westminster College, taking the trolley all the way downtown for movies, and clandestine driving of the family Studebaker well before the age of 16. The Bradshaw family of this era was large and sprawling so his youth included summers with cousins in Tooele, visits with his grandfather in Lehi, and trips to see extended family in California and Alberta, Canada. Throughout his life he enjoyed camping and skiing in Utah’s mountains. He was an early 4-wheeler in southern Utah exploring many areas that are now off limits to motorized travel with his family and dear friends. Don was an avid skier and kept up the sport into his 80’s. He shared his love of skiing with his wife, children, and grandchildren. A family Condo in Park City was the site of many large family ski gatherings with his children and grandchildren.
A graduate of East High School, his college studies were interrupted by World War II. Don joined the U.S. Coast Guard at the age of 17 serving as a radioman on a troop transport ship in the Pacific theater. After the war, he returned to the University of Utah to complete his education. Prior to his passing, he held some notoriety for having been the oldest known member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity with Pin #650. For some 70-plus years, he continued to support the Beta house at the University of Utah and annual Beta events that took place on his Farmington “Farm” property. Don forged many deep friendships and connections from his years as a beta that led to life-long connections and business associations.
Don married fellow U of U alumnus Jean Ward in 1951 and they celebrated 68 years of marriage together before Jean passed away earlier this spring. They made their home in Salt Lake City raising four children together. Don’s family roots in American Savings and Loan led him to start his own business, American Insurance & Investment Corp., which would ultimately grow to include sons Dave and Dan in the operations. Four grandchildren would also spend time working in the insurance industry with one grandson choosing to make it a career. Just as he had forged youthful connections and fraternity associations, Don would spend his business career being active in many business groups and associations. He gained many deep and lasting friendships through these networks. At different times in his life, he served in leadership positions or on the boards of the Utah Independent Agents Association, the Surplus Line Association, the CPCU (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter) society, as a Scout Master, and as Salt Lake Inner-City Missionaries with his wife Jean for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a member of the Salt Lake Rotary Club. He was also a member of the Chesapeake Duck Club where he enjoyed hunting with longtime friends, the Alta Club and the Salt Lake Country Club where he loved to socialize and entertain.
A retelling of Don’s life is not complete without mentioning the family “Farm” in Farmington, Utah. Don and Jean spent weekends and summers for nearly 50 years at the Farm, an original pioneer-era house and cherry orchard near Farmington Pond. They lived a “city-life” Monday-Friday and then returned to the Farm each weekend for real work, often hosting family and friends for BBQs or garden parties. The Farm property featured beautiful grounds, a cherry orchard, pool, and a John Deere tractor named Bertha. These provided endless projects for Don and he could often be heard saying “it seems like something is always broken here.” Many life lessons, including the proper application of some swear words, were imparted by Don to his grandchildren as many of the grandkids learned the value of hard work there, albeit at grandparent wages, while spending Saturdays working with their grandparents on Farm upkeep and projects.
In his later years, Don often felt like the last of his generation as many friends, colleagues and family had passed on and he missed the close association from his more social years. Indeed, for so many reasons, 2020 was a hard year for Don as his wife’s health declined and led to her passing at a time when the pandemic made protecting his health a family priority.
Don was devoted to his wife Jean and was very tender, caring and concerned for her as her health declined. We all learned from him as we watched this care and how to serve loved ones.
For the last 2 years Dad lived at Parklane Independent Senior Living. He was still in possession of his driver’s license so he was able to drive “home” several times a week to collect mail, rake a few leaves, reconnect with his neighbors, or find keepsakes Jean had tucked away. He enjoyed his association with his “peers” at Parklane and made many new friends there.
Because he could still drive, Don was able to visit with his children and grandchildren in many “socially distant” events and picnics this year and also welcomed two additional great grandchildren this summer. He even mastered Zoom video calls and improved his ability at text messaging so he could safely visit with his family during the pandemic as the weather grew too cold for outdoor gatherings.
Due to the pandemic, the family will hold a private service at 10:30am on Saturday, December 12th, 2020 and the family will make the proceedings available by Video Conference for those who wish to participate remotely. For those interested, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Interment will be at the Willard Cemetery. In lieu of flowers please make a donation in Don and Jean Bradshaw’s honor, to the University of Utah Hospital Foundation.
We imagine a great reunion of Don and Jean, along with so many family and friends, is taking place in Heaven. Though we will miss our Dad and Bompa, we know he has been missing those other people mightily while we enjoyed his company here these last 94 years.
This year our family has been the recipient of much loving service by others who started out as total strangers as they came to provide care for Don and Jean, but they ended up cherished helpers. We would like to publicly thank these caregivers and the hospice nurses at Inspiration Home Health.
Don is survived by his children, D. David (Sharmon), G. Daniel (Holly), John W., and Amy Young (Howard); by nine grandchildren Kate, Christy, Mark, Natalie, Scott, Ike, Jenny, Hannah, and Emily; and ten great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his wife Jean, parents, and siblings.