Bill Bradley Jr
Bill Bradley Jr., 66, passed away on July 29 at his home in Birmingham, Michigan, surrounded by his wife of 39 years Cathy and children Billy and Sarah. Big Bill, aka "Big B," was the rock of his family and, as his five siblings will tell you, "always mom's favorite."
Bill loved, in no particular order: the Detroit Tigers, his granddaughters Anna and Leah, a medium rare ribeye (just shine a flashlight over it!), giving people driving directions even though they'll be using Google Maps, sailing on Lake Michigan, extremely hot and salty French fries, waking up very early for Billy and Sarah's various skiing/running/triathlon races, and—last but certainly not least—an ice cold Beefeater martini extra dry with an olive. Or, as he called it, a "Tooni."
Born in Detroit on October 15, 1954, Bill was a proud Detroiter. His father, Bill Sr., was a Detroit Firefighter and his mother, Betty, wrangled six children in a two-bedroom home. He spent his early years on the city's West Side and attended St. Suzanne's grade school before moving to the East Side where he graduated from Denby High. After 10 years of night school at Wayne State, he graduated in 1983.
He spent the majority of his adult life working in telecommunications and information technology in the Metro Detroit area before starting his own business in 1994. He moved to Traverse City in 1995 and ran BCS Networks until 2007. He and Cathy moved to Chicago, where they lived in Old Town for 10 years before moving back to Michigan.
Big Bill was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in July of 2018 and fought like hell. When he first got sick, he continued riding his bike to appointments at Beaumont (which amused—and confused—everyone he encountered inside the hospital). As his illness progressed, he remained strong, tough, and a total pain in the neck. His family and friends are grateful for all of the meals and memories they packed into three years.
He went peacefully and in no pain.
Bill is survived by his wife Cathy; his son Billy III and his partner Alex Beggs of Ann Arbor; his daughter Sarah Mooney and her husband Ryan of Traverse City; two grandchildren Anna and Leah Mooney; his mother Betty; five siblings (Gale, Grace, Kelly, Michael, and Tommy); and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Bill Sr.
For years, on Opening Day, Bill would point out older, ailing fans in wheelchairs and tell his family, "That better be me someday!" On a sunny, cloudless day in late May 2021 he attended his final Tiger game. He got his wish. To quote him: "they wheeled my ass into the stands." Miggy hit a sacrifice fly, Jonathan Schoop hit a homer to deep left center, and the Tigers beat the Yankees 6-1.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to TART Trails, the local non-profit that maintains the many trails around Traverse City that Bill loved to ride. The family will host a celebration of life, more details to come.
Published by Detroit Free Press & The Detroit News from Aug. 1 to Aug. 3, 2021.