Corinne Gerdes Bradford was born on November 14, 1935, to Francis Leo Gerdes and Cora Weilenman Gerdes. As she was fond of saying, she grew up on a gravel road in Stoneville, Mississippi on the Delta Branch Experiment Station, a community that recently received electricity but that still relied on a milk wagon every morning.
Corinne loved piano, poetry, baton twirling, and leading the Leland High School band as the drum majorette. For her senior recital, she played many difficult pieces, including the first movement of the Grieg Piano Concerto in A Minor. During high school, she was involved in Young Life and put her faith in Jesus Christ at Star Ranch YL Camp in Buena Vista, CO.
Upon graduating high school in 1953, Corinne began her studies in piano at Stephens College in Missouri, then finished at The University of Alabama with an education degree in 1957. During her time at Alabama, her sister, Marianne, fixed her up on a blind date with an LSU student named David Bradford. They dated off and on for the next few years. After graduating, she moved to Dallas, TX, to teach school.
While in Dallas she was discipled through The Navigators ministry. Meanwhile, David was also being disciplined through The Navigators during his two-year navy service in the Philippines. The practices of memorizing and meditating on Scripture and forming discipling friendships marked their lives from then on. A frequent memory the family cherishes is of Corinne on the back patio or deck in the morning with her Bible in prayer.
Corinne and David rekindled their relationship upon his return from overseas, and they were married in 1961. Their early married life was full of having kids and serving together on The Navigators staff, which took them to college campuses in Rhode Island, Virginia, and Auckland, New Zealand. After fifteen years they resigned and moved to Memphis, TN, then to Jackson, MS, where David began a CPA practice.
Corinne loved raising their children, teaching music in school and piano at home, and sharing in the life and ministry of First Presbyterian Church. Through their church, they participated in and led many short-term mission trips to Eastern Europe and Peru and also helped start a ministry to Jackson area internationals through teaching English as a Second Language. Corinne also found great pleasure in regularly opening up their home and sharing meals and laughter and fellowship with many.
Corinne’s cup overflowed with her nine grandchildren who called her “Dear.” She loved cooking for them, teaching them to sew, play the piano, and sing funny songs, and vacationing with them in Hilton Head, SC.
The Lord eventually led them to retire and move to Anderson, SC. They built a new life there with many friends and served in an addiction recovery program. After two years of struggling with Alzheimer’s, Dear passed into glory on September 5, 2023.
Dear had a thoughtful, creative heart and worked through her faith in Jesus and the griefs of this life with poetry. One of her later poems, especially comforting to her family now, ends this way: “The Mighty River of Eternity always thunders on. We don’t know when we’ll meet there, but we know it can’t be long. So, when we reach the River rolling, peaceful as we cross, we’ll know it’s true, we gained it all, and nothing have we lost!”
Dear was preceded in death by her husband, David, and her youngest son, Hudson. She is survived by her three children Nate (Beth) of Anderson, SC, Marianne of Raleigh, NC, and Bill (Allen) of Tupelo, MS; and her nine grandchildren: Mollie, Nathan, Addie, William, Hannah, Sarah Grace, Andrew, Corinne, and Julia.
The funeral service will be held at Leland United Methodist Church in Leland, MS, on Saturday, September 9, 2023, at 2:30. From 12:00-2:00 family and friends are invited to lunch at the Thompson House at 111 North Deer Creek Drive. Pallbearers will be Bill Brown, Buz Lowry, her grandsons, and her nephew Joe Hyde.
The family deeply appreciates the love and support we received from AnMed Family Medicine Center and Hospice of the Upstate and especially Dr. Anne Cook, Melissa Hearon, Jannie Bell, Joanne White, Mayelis Reyes Rodriguez, and most of all Melody Holmes.
Memorials may be given to Peru Mission for the rebuilding of the church manse in the Arevalo neighborhood, through the online tab at https://www.perumission.org/manse-campaign or by mail to: Peru Mission USA, PO Box 25912, Greenville, SC 29616, earmarked “Arevalo Manse.”