Cover photo for Karen E. Bradley's Obituary
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1955 Karen 2022

Karen E. Bradley

March 26, 1955 — July 29, 2022

Karen Elizabeth Bradley passed away peacefully on Friday, July 29, 2022. Karen is survived by her two children, Sara Langford and Meaghan Bradley-Bussell, and her brother, Robert Bradley Jr. and his wife Cynthia of Epsom, NH.

Karen was born to the late Robert and Dorothy Bradley on March 26, 1955 in Newton, Massachusetts. She had fond memories of spending time with her father at the stock car track or playing baseball. In high school she was a majorette and traveled to a competition in Florida, which was a very big deal at the time. Her academic achievements began at a young age with a goal of pursuing a higher education.

From a young age she was fiercely independent and strong willed. Karen had a strong work ethic, holding various jobs from the time she was legally able to work. She scooped many an ice cream sundae to put herself through college. She was not all work – in fact, she developed an interest in running in high school that forged her lifelong pursuit of physical fitness and outdoor activities. She was an avid music lover and enjoyed rocking out to Bruce Springsteen.

After graduating from Somerset High School in 1973 she went on to attend Regis College and received her B.A. in English at Providence College. After graduation she taught middle school and then worked as a university administrator for seven years and was a program specialist for the State of Massachusetts, developing employee training programs for profit and non-profit organizations. Her passion for education continued and she went on to receive her M.A. in Higher Education Administration from Boston College and M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from Stanford University.

In 1992 she accepted a position at Western Washington University in the Sociology department and moved up to Bellingham, Washington. WWU was particularly appealing to her as it would give her an opportunity to work with first generation college students. Working with and mentoring students was a huge passion of hers. Shortly after moving to Bellingham, she became a mother of two girls, a lifelong dream of hers. Sara Marie was born in 1994 and Meaghan Elizabeth was born in 1996. Karen and the girls did everything together, including traveling to Zurich, Switzerland and Boston, Massachusetts where she took sabbatical, teaching and researching at different prestigious universities.

Karen was incredibly dedicated to her profession. She published research alongside her fellow colleague and friend, Maria Charles, and presented at conferences around the country. She was always a team player and was known for her wisdom and leadership, at one point chairing two departments at one time.

Karen considered her daughters to be her greatest accomplishment. She never missed a beat as a mother, supporting her two girls in a myriad of extracurricular activities including driving the girls to soccer games all across the state of Washington and many weekly piano lessons. As a mother of a daughter with severe food allergies, she even made the majority of the food from scratch, including her delicious homemade breads, cakes, cookies, and granola bars.

Karen was guided by a strong set of values including supporting those who have less, standing up for what she believed in and being an overall good human being. Those values were instilled in her daughters who try to live them in their day-to-day lives.

No matter where she went, she made fast and lifelong friends wherever home was at the time. Her friends remember Karen as a spunky, caring and outgoing friend who never had a shortage of laughs. She organized Christmas cookie decorating parties, Easter egg painting extravaganzas, and all-around fun parties. She was also an available ear for both her friends, and her girls, knowing when to give out some insightful advice or just to be there for support.

She is remembered as a vibrant, smart, funny and loving mother, sister and friend. She is deeply missed by all who knew her. Her spirit lives on and will never be forgotten.

A service will be held on Thursday, September 22nd at 3:00 PM at Squalicum Boathouse in Bellingham, WA. In lieu of flowers we ask that you make a donation to the Alzheimer's Association.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Karen E. Bradley, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Starts at 3:00 pm (Pacific time)

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