Frederick Bradlee

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Frederick Josiah Bradlee, Jr.
Frederick Josiah Bradlee Jr..jpg
Date of birth December 20, 1892
Place of birth Boston, Massachusetts
Date of death April 29, 1970(1970-04-29) (aged 77)
Place of death Beverly, Massachusetts
Career information
Position(s) Halfback, Fullback
College Harvard University

Frederick Josiah Bradlee, Jr. (December 20, 1892 – April 29, 1970) was an American football player. He was a first-team All-American while attending Harvard University in 1914. He was the father of American journalist Ben Bradlee.


Early years[edit]

Bradlee was born December 20, 1892 on Beacon Street in the Back Bay section of Boston, a member of a "Brahmin" Crowninshield family that had lived in Boston since the 17th century.[1][2] He was the son of Eliza Whitwell Thomas and Frederick Josiah Bradlee (1866–1951).[3]

Harvard University[edit]

Bradlee enrolled at Harvard University. At Harvard, Bradlee played at the halfback and fullback positions for Percy Haughton's undefeated Harvard Crimson football teams from 1912 to 1914. During Bradlee's three years as a starter for Harvard, he played on teams that included College Football Hall of Famers Huntington Hardwick, Eddie Mahan and Stan Pennock. The Harvard football team did not lose a single game from 1912 to 1914, compiling records of 9–0 in 1912, 9–0 in 1913, and 7–0–2 in 1914.[4] At the end of the 1914 season, Bradlee was selected as a first-team All-American by Collier's Weekly as selected by Walter Camp,[5] the Washington Herald (selected by William Peet), Boston Post (selected by Charles H. Parker), and Tom Thorp in the New York Evening Journal.[6]

Later years[edit]

After graduating from Harvard, Bradlee married Josephine de Gersdorff (1896–1975), the daughter of prominent New York lawyer Carl August de Gersdorff, on July 3, 1917.[7] His wife was his third cousin, sharing great-great-grandfather Benjamin Williams Crowninshield (1772–1851). She was daughter of artist Frederic Crowninshield (1845–1918) and niece of magazine editor Frank Crowninshield (1872–1947).[8]

Bradlee was known while attending college as "Beebo" and simply as "B." He worked as an investment banker with the firm of Bank America Blair Company. His son, Ben Bradlee, wrote of his father's professional experience as follows:

"After football, 'B' Bradlee rose quickly like all Brahmin athletes of that era from bank runner, to broker, then vice president of the Boston branch of an investment house called Bank America Blair Company. And then the fall. One day a Golden Boy. Next day, the Depression, and my old man was on the road trying to sell a commercial deodorant and molybdenum mining stock for companies founded and financed by some of his rich pals."[2]

Bradlee worked at odd jobs during the Depression to support his family. Ben Bradlee recalled his father in his autobiography: "My father weighed less than 200 pounds, but he was tough, barrel-chested, strong, fast and soft-spoken. Lying in his arms as a child and listening to that deep voice rolling around in his voice box was all the comfort and reassurance that a child could stand."[2]

Bradlee later served as a financial consultant to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.[9] His son, Ben Bradlee, became the editor of The Washington Post.

Bradlee suffered an aortic aneurysm and died in April 1970 in Beverly, Massachusetts at age 77.[9]


See also[edit]

Family tree[edit]


  1. ^ Walter Muir Whitehill (1970). "Frederick Josiah Bradlee". Massachusetts Historical Society: 116–127. JSTOR 25080695. 
  2. ^ a b c Ben Bradlee (1995). A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures. Simon & Schuster. pp. 20–22. ISBN 0-684-80894-3. 
  3. ^ Danvers Historical Society (1922). Historical collections of the Danvers Historical Society. Danvers Historical Society. p. 42. 
  4. ^ "Huntington "Tack" Hardwick profile". College Football Hall of Fame. 
  5. ^ "Walter Camp’s Three All-American Elevens". The Syracuse Herald. 1914-12-13. 
  6. ^ Spalding's Official Football Guide 1915
  7. ^ "Married: Bradlee—De Gersdorff" (pdf). New York Times. July 7, 1917. Retrieved October 29, 2010. 
  8. ^ Chalres Alfred Welch. Welch Genealogy. pp. 35–36. 
  9. ^ a b "Frederick Bradlee, 77, Dies; Harvard All-America Back". The New York Times. 1970-04-29.