John Elliot Bradshaw, Sr.
JOHN ELLIOT BRADSHAW, SR. of Houston passed away on Sunday, May 8, 2016, at the age of 82 due to heart failure.
A fourth generation Houstonian, John was born on June 29, 1933, to Norma Elliot of New Orleans and John McCullough Bradshaw (aka "Jack") of Houston. John attended St. Anne Catholic Community School and graduated from St. Thomas High School, after which he attended the University of St. Thomas before joining the Basilian Fathers (Congregation of St. Basil) and studying for the priesthood. He remained in seminary for roughly a decade, leaving just a few days prior to being ordained. During that time he earned his bachelor's degree and master's degrees in psychology, philosophy, and theology from St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He returned to Houston in the early 1960s and began post-graduate studies at Rice University as well as teaching religion and history at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory.
Throughout his early adulthood, John developed a drinking problem, and on December 11, 1965, committed himself to Austin State Hospital for treatment. After release, he entered an alcohol recovery program and—one day at a time—had achieved over fifty years of sobriety by the time of his death. Within a few years of his early addiction treatment, he began to lecture at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, and became a sought-after counselor, teacher, public speaker, and consultant in Houston throughout the 1970s, including his role as host for a locally-televised talk show called Spotlight.
From early notoriety in Houston, his career skyrocketed to the national level with the release of several televised series on PBS in the early 1980s. This success led to a prolific writing career starting with his first book, Bradshaw On: The Family, published in 1986 and based on his earlier PBS series of the same name. John wrote six additional books, three of which were New York Times best sellers: Healing the Shame that Binds You (1988), Homecoming (1990), Creating Love (1992), Family Secrets (1995), Reclaiming Virtue (2009), and Post-Romantic Stress Disorder (2014). In total, his books have sold over 12.5 million copies and have been published in over 40 languages. He was elected by a group of his peers as "one of the most influential writers on emotional health in the 20th Century."
A pioneer in the self-help movement, his writing career led to television appearances on every major talk show throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. John was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host for his series Bradshaw On: Homecoming in 1991. In 1996, John hosted the nationally syndicated talk show, The Bradshaw Difference with MGM Studios.
Throughout his life, John remained a popular public speaker and continued to tour the world giving lectures and workshops. Beginning in 1999, John became a Senior Fellow at The Meadows Institute, a multi-disorder in-patient facility specializing in the treatment of a broad range of addictions.
John married Nancy Gail Swanberg Isaacs in 1969, a union which produced his son John Elliot Bradshaw Jr. He remained a father to Nancy's two children from a previous marriage, Joseph Bradley Isaacs and Brenda Isaacs Booth. John and Nancy were married 20 years. In 2003 after a lengthy courtship, John married Karen Ann Mabray. Together, they parented daughter Ariel Harper Bradshaw and enjoyed a full and vibrant life in Houston society.
John was preceded in death by his father Jack Bradshaw in 1975; mother Norma Elliot Bradshaw in 1996, sister Barbara Anne Bradshaw in 2010; and brother Richard Allen Bradshaw in 2013. He is survived by his wife, Karen Ann Bradshaw; children, John Elliot Bradshaw Jr. and Ariel Harper Bradshaw; stepchildren Joseph Bradley Isaacs and Brenda Isaacs Booth; niece Kathleen Bradshaw and her husband Matthew McCracken; grandchildren Rina Vibella, Liam Elliot Booth, Jackson Cowdrey Booth, and Cassie Rose Isaacs; great-grandchildren Nevaeh Izabella Balderas and Heaven Mevele Vibella; and great-nephews Joshua Phillips, Christopher Phillips, Jes Bradshaw, Zachary Phillips, and Conor McCracken. He also leaves behind one aunt from his maternal line, Miriam Elliot Nolen, as well as numerous cousins, friends and former colleagues.
Close friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from 5 to 8 pm on Friday, May 13, at the Bradshaw-Carter Funeral Home, 1734 West Alabama Street in Houston. The funeral service will be held at 10 am on Saturday, May 14, at The Church of St John the Divine, 2450 River Oaks Boulevard in Houston. Rev. Dr. Douglas Richnow will officiate. Reception to follow. Burial will follow via escorted cortege at Earthman Resthaven Cemetery, 13102 North Freeway in Houston.
Pallbearers will be Brian Starrett, Pedro Herrera, Joshua Phillips, Christopher Phillips, Jes Bradshaw, Zachary Phillips, Conor McCracken, Liam Booth, and Jackson Booth. Honorary pallbearers will be James Boland, Michael Butera, Robert Cagle, Barney Cearley, Dr. Mark D'Andrea, Rev. Michael Falls, Joseph Goeters, and Walter Shepherd.
Funeral arrangements are being handled through Bradshaw-Carter Memorial & Funeral Services, (713) 521-0066. In lieu of flowers and customary remembrances, gifts in John's memory may be directed to The Council on Recovery (www.councilonrecovery.org
) or Houston Public Media (www.houstonpublicmedia.org
Published by Houston Chronicle from May 10 to May 15, 2016.