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 on March 26, 1955 in Newton, Massachusetts to the late Robert and Dorothy Bradley. She fondly remembered spending time with her father at the track or playing baseball. She was a majorette in high school and traveled to Florida for a competition, which was a huge deal at the time. Her academic achievements began at a young age with the goal of pursuing higher education.
From a young age she was very independent and strong-willed. Karen had a strong work ethic and has held various jobs since she was legally able to work. She scooped a lot of sundaes to get her through college. Not only was she work, in fact she developed an interest in being late in high school, which forged her lifelong pursuit of physical fitness and outdoor activities. She was an avid music lover and loved rocking out to Bruce Springsteen.
After graduating from Somerset High School in 1973, she attended Regis College and received her BA in English from Providence College. After graduating, she taught middle school and then worked for seven years as a university administrator and program specialist for the state of Massachusetts, developing employee training programs for commercial and nonprofit organizations. Her passion for education continued and she received her MA in higher education administration from Boston College and her MA and Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford University.
In 1992 she accepted a position at Western Washington University in the sociology department and relocated to Bellingham, Washington. EMU was particularly appealing to her as it would give her the opportunity to work with first-generation college students. Working with and supervising students was a great passion of hers. Shortly after moving to Bellingham, she became a mother to 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 trips to Zurich, Switzerland and Boston, Massachusetts, where she took a sabbatical, teaching and doing research at various prestigious universities.
Karen was incredibly dedicated to her job. She published research with her colleague and friend Maria Charles and presented it at conferences across the country. Always a team player, she is known for her wisdom and leadership, at times managing two departments at once.
Karen considered her daughters her greatest achievement. As a mother, she never missed a beat and supported her two girls in a variety of extracurricular activities, including driving the girls to soccer games across Washington state and many weekly piano lessons. As the mother of a daughter with severe food allergies, she even prepares most of the food herself, including her delicious homemade breads, cakes, biscuits and granola bars.
Karen has been guided by a strong set of values including supporting those who have less, standing up for what she believes in and being an overall good person. These values were instilled in her daughters who try to live them in their daily lives.
No matter where she went, she made friends quickly and for life, wherever her home was. Her friends remember Karen as a spunky, caring and outgoing friend who was never short of laughs. She organized Christmas cookie decorating parties, Easter egg painting extravaganzas and all round fun parties. She was also a listening ear to her friends and her girls, knowing when to offer insightful advice or just be there for support.
She will be remembered as a vibrant, smart, funny and loving mother, sister and friend. She is greatly missed by all who knew her. Her spirit lives on and will never be forgotten.
A service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on September 22 at the Squalicum Boathouse in Bellingham, WA. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Published by Westford Funeral Home & Cremation Services on August 2, 2022.