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Conroe centenarian sings into 100 years

By Russell Ledbetter

SHENANDOAH — More than an hour into her 100th birthday party on Saturday, suddenly Lucille Bradley began to sing. And though she’s Conroe’s newest centenarian, the sweetly smooth alto soprano’s still got it.

Former Conroe music and second-grade teacher Lucille Bradley blows out candles on her 100th birthday cake Saturday at Reliant Rehabilitation Hospital in Shenandoah. Bradley is recovering after falling and breaking her hip in front of her favorite Conroe restaurant two weeks ago.

Bradley, wheelchair-bound after abruptly falling two weeks ago and breaking her hip in front of her favorite Conroe restaurant, exhausted from a strenuous morning of physical therapy at Reliant Rehabilitation Hospital in Shenandoah, suddenly lifted her resonant, low-volumed high soprano voice through the rehabilitation center banquet room and cameras quickly popped out and all became quiet.

A vocal and music teacher, who also taught second grade in Conroe for more than 30 years, Bradley said that despite her health challenges as of late, her favorite anthem, “I Trust In God” had to be sung aloud to mark the special milestone on her special day.

Bradley was the only one who could have topped Montgomery native Barbara Johnson-Tucker, who as a 9-year-old had worshipped with Bradley and Bradley’s late husband, Rev. Arthur Bradley, at their church in Montgomery. Tucker, an accomplished opera singer, had surprised Bradley immediately after she was wheeled in with a stirring rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer.”

“I lived to keep you singing,” Bradley said.

“Miss Lucille was my first First Lady,” said Johnson-Tucker of the honorary title frequently given to the wife of a congregational pastor.

An extensive 100th birthday celebration that was to last three days honoring Bradley in Conroe all had to be cancelled following her health travails. The celebration was to include a parade, and a Saturday night dinner banquet at River Plantation Country Club featuring singing by Tucker, and Bradley’s niece, Linda Cullens, and Bradley arriving in a limo.

“She drove herself in her own car until she was 97,” Cullens said. “She only stopped because she finally decided it was time.”

A hastily organized family celebration by Bradley’s niece Grecian Holly and foster granddaughter Leatha Moore at Reliant Rehabilitation Hospital in Shenandoah on Saturday had nearly 50 of Bradley’s oldest friends and loved one’s gathered to celebrate her 100 years.

Former Conroe Mayor Tommy Metcalf stopped by, Bradley’s dear 93-year-old friend Velmer Mae White traveled to the celebration, and pastors, Dr. Samuel Smith of Mount Horeb Missionary Baptist Church in Houston and Pastor Pete Rucker of First Missionary Baptist Church in Conroe (where Bradley divides her time between her two church homes) all traveled to Shenandoah to help Conroe’s newest centenarian celebrate.

“I’m 100 years old,” Bradley exclaimed. “I’m 100! And all of the young people are my children, and I just love you all. I do. I’m 100!”

The Courier
November 17, 2013




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