Louise Mathilde Bradford
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08/03/25 - 03/10/14
Services for Louise Mathilde Bradford will be held at 2:00 p.m., Thursday, March 13, 2014 at First United Methodist Church, Alexandria with Reverend Donnie Wilkinson and Dr. Henry Blount officiating. Burial will be in Greenwood Memorial Park, under the direction of Hixson Brothers, Alexandria.
The family requests that visitation be observed Wednesday at Hixson Brothers, Alexandria from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. and will continue on Thursday at the church from 1:00 a.m. until time of service.
Ms. Bradford, 88, of Alexandria passed away March 10, 2014.
Mathilde was born in Rapides Parish, the only child of Henry Aaron "Dick" Bradford and Ruby Pearson Bradford. She received her undergraduate degree from Louisiana Tech, and completed post graduate work at LSU, Tulane, and the Wharton School of Business. She asked so many questions, while working at the Regional Office of Child Welfare that the social workers recommended that she get her master's degree in social work. And, she did. She earned a master's degree in Social Work at Columbia University in New York.
That experience defined the rest of her life. Social work was her life and her passion. She opted not to have a family of her own, but dedicated her life to the lives of children and families in crisis who needed support to keep them together. Mathilde's career spanned approximately 60 years. She retired from the Office of Community Services after 30 years where she was the Regional Director, retired from St. Mary's Training School where she was the Director of Social Services after 22 years, and then went to Volunteers of America where she worked another 8 years as the Foster Parent Training Director. Mathilde also taught Social Work for 10 years at Louisiana College in Pineville.
Mathilde is the last of a very special group of women who were pioneers in human services in the Central Louisiana area, the state, and the nation. During the late 60's and 70's when women were not in administrative positions Mathilde Bradford, Josephine Gandleman, Hilda Simon and Audrey Faye Sayman defined and refined social work in Louisiana. Mathilde Bradford was "Child Welfare", Josephine Gandleman was "Catholic Charities—Adoption Program", Hilda Simon was "Department of Public Welfare", and Audrey Faye Sayman was "Mental Health."
Mathilde was part of President Lyndon Johnson's White House Council on Children which was instrumental in establishing day-care standards for the United States. Mathilde wrote the day-care standards for the State of Louisiana, and as the Region 6 Child Welfare Consultant, operated the state day-care facility in Natchitoches which piloted programs and was a training ground for young social workers entering the field of child welfare.
She was the recipient of numerous local, state, and national awards for her contributions to the field of social work. Among those awards was one for her work with the National Association of Social Workers in establishing standards for professional social workers. One of her greatest joys was watching the professional development of her students as she saw them become practicing social workers, administrators, and professors.
However, of all the accolades that Mathilde received, she was most proud of the adoptive children and families. There was one special family that was close to her heart because that family always shared their children's accomplishments with her, and she was able to participate in the development of that family and celebrate the children's accomplishments with them.
Mathilde was a life-long member of the First United Methodist Church in Alexandria where she was instrumental in establishing the pre-school and day- care programs. She was a member of the Lions Club, the DAR, the 20th Century Book Club and many other community, state, and national organizations.
Mathilde's other love was travel. She traveled the world with her social work buddy and close friend, Josephine Gandleman. Mathilde was an intrepid traveler. She and Jo attended international social work conferences in China, the United Kingdom and studied social work practices in countries such as Russia when Americans were not really welcome. When Jo was no longer able to travel with her, Mathilde and her cousin, Sarah, the sister of her heart, traveled together. Mathilde celebrated her 85th birthday cruising Europe, and her travel group crowned her the "Queen of the High Seas". Someone said recently if you wanted to visit any country in the world, Mathilde Bradford could tell you the best places to stay, the best places to eat, and the best places to shop.
Although Mathilde did not have children of her own, it did not stop this enterprising woman from "adopting" the children and grandchildren of her dearest friend, Lynda Thiels. Mathilde would introduce Lynda's children as "my grandchildren." And, as her "great grandchildren would tell you, Mathilde never aged. She was forever young. She had the most energy, she loved fun, she gave the coolest presents, she had the coolest fireworks, and she loved holidays, especially Christmas. She loved to see the joy on the children's faces and could make the most mundane of tasks an adventure.
Mathilde is survived by her cousins, Roger Conner and wife Melanie, Dunaway Conner, Jr. and wife Carolyn, and Diane Conaway. She is also survived by her dearest friend, Lynda Thiels, Linda's children Jeffrey and wife Tammy, Kristin and husband John "Chip" and Linda's grandchildren, Austin, Payton, Lainey, Nicole, David, Maddie, and Eli and countless friends. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her for her courage, for her love and passion for social work, her love for children and families, her world travels, her love of fun and having a good time, her strong sense of family, and her intrepid and adventurous spirit.
The deepest appreciation is extended to Brenda Rodriguez who was with Mathilde for 8 years and was so devoted to her. Brenda and Mathilde were kindred spirits, they loved to shop, loved their "bling", and refused to throw away anything. Brenda and Bootsie Pearce were always there and became a part of the family. Thanks also to Mary Jane Trevino who came a part of Mathilde's life and part of the family as well when she began sitting with Mathilde in September. Special thanks is also given to the staff at Hilltop Nursing Home for their devotion to Mathilde and the wonderful care that she received. They made it possible to keep family traditions going with Mathilde participating in those traditions. Thanks also Guardian Hospice for their loving care during the last few months of Mathilde's life.
Pallbearers will be Joey Crouch, Dale Harrington, John Randall Whaley, Dr. Vanda Davidson, Jeffrey Thiels, and Austin Thiels. Honorary pallbearers will be Roger Conner and Chris Sanders.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to First United Methodist Church, 2727 Jackson Street, Alexandria, LA 71301.
To extend online condolences to the Bradford family, please visit us at www.hixsonbrothers.com.
Published in The Town Talk on Mar. 12, 2014