Douglas B. "Buzz" Bradshaw passed away on Nov. 7, 2011, at his home in Ketchum, Idaho, just two months before celebrating his 102nd birthday.
Buzz was born to Grace and R.D. "Rex" Bradshaw on Jan. 6, 1910, in Payette, Idaho, where he, his brother, Ken, and sister, Edith, spent their childhood. His official name of Douglas only lasted until he got his first pair of the popular Buster Brown shoes; from then on, the family began calling him "Buss." Later, when he became known for his honey, this nickname was altered slightly to "Buzz."
Rex had learned his beekeeping in Long Island, N.Y., where his family had emigrated from Ireland when he was an infant. As a young man, Rex moved to Idaho and started a honey business in 1905. His children were involved from a young age. Edith graded the honey, and each year, Buzz and Ken left school a month early to help when the honeybees began to swarm.
After graduating from Payette High School, Buzz and Ken took turns attending college one year and spending the alternate year selling honey from a Model A Ford truck. Buzz first studied at the University of Idaho, but later transferred to Stanford University, where he earned his letter in gymnastics and graduated from the School of Business in 1933 with a degree in business and economics. He then returned to Idaho to join his father and brother in the family's newly formed honey-producing company, R.D. Bradshaw & Sons, located in Wendell, Idaho.
It was in February, 1934, at a Saturday night dance at the American Legion Hall in Gooding, Idaho, that Buzz first laid eyes on Myrle Robertson. Buzz always chuckled when he recalled spending most of that next summer trying to convince Myrle to marry "the son of a beekeeper who peddled honey for a living." Buzz and Myrle were married Sept. 30, 1934, at Myrle's family's home in Gooding, with family and friends present. To this union, two sons were born, Douglas John and Robert Benn Bradshaw.
Buzz focused on the marketing aspects of the business, while his brother, Ken, developed the production side. Buzz created "3 Bears" and "Spun Honey" brands with distribution in supermarket chains throughout the West and Midwest. By the time the family honey business was sold in 1964 to Sioux Honey Association of Sioux City, Iowa, it had become the largest independent honey-producing and packing business in the United States.
Two years later, in 1966, Buzz and his two sons purchased the Ray Wells Food Brokerage Co. in Los Angeles. Bradshaw Incorporated, as it was renamed, provided Buzz the opportunity to focus all his energy and talent on a business he loved. His leadership, motivational ability and national marketing experience were instrumental in building the company into one of the major food brokerage firms in the Western United States, with more than 800 sales professionals on staff. The family sold the business in 1997 to focus on its other enterprises. With Buzz's support, the family had established several other businesses in food, beverage and housewares; most notably Bradshaw International, which has become the national market leader in kitchenware. Buzz has taken great pride knowing that company management today includes his grandsons, Brett and Scott.
Buzz and Myrle loved the Wood River Valley. They honeymooned in Ketchum and spent many weekends and summers there with friends and family. In 1954 they purchased property and built their first home on Knob Hill. In 1973, they built their present home next to the original house and began commuting seasonally back and forth between Ketchum and their home in Indian Wells, Calif. They always called Ketchum "home."
Buzz took an active interest in local affairs, and in 1960, he and Myrle donated three lots that would become part of Ketchum's Knob Hill City Park. As he approached his 90th birthday, Buzz, a wonderful storyteller and writer, decided to write a book detailing the Bradshaw story. In just under a year, he wrote and published "Ninety-five Years and Beyond: The Bradshaw Story." Each family member received a copy at Christmas that year, and the book was also donated to the Ketchum Community Library's regional history collection.
Known for his upbeat, positive attitude, Buzz never lost his passionate love of life. He and Myrle traveled the world. An avid reader, he was continually learning and keeping up to date on current affairs, as well as the activities of family and friends. It wasn't unusual to sit down with Buzz and in one conversation cover world history, foreign policy, sports standings or the day he and Myrle spent traveling over Afghanistan's Khyber Pass. Buzz loved and inspired people, and was particularly interested in the well-being of young people, especially his family and grandchildren.
Buzz was a member of the National Food Brokers Association, a life member of the Masonic Lodge and the Thunderbird Country Club and a longtime member of the Boy Scouts of America, St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ketchum and Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. In 1979 Buzz was the recipient of the National Conference of Christians and Jews annual Humanitarian Award, the first food broker in L.A. to receive this award.
Buzz leaves behind Myrle, his wife of 77 years, and his sons, Doug (Nancy) of Gardnerville, Nev., and Ben, Sun Valley, Idaho. He is also survived by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Laurie (Eric) Mensing of McLean, Va., and children, Michael, John and Lauren; Scott (Wendy) Bradshaw of Temecula, Calif., and children, Cameron and Kyle; Anne (Jim) Hines of Cardiff, Calif., and children, Connor and Chad; Karin Failla of Santa Monica, Calif.; Darin Failla of Sacramento, Calif.; Jill (Taylor) Pillsbury of Laguna Beach, Calif., and children, Jack, Audrey and Charlie; and Brett (Samantha) Bradshaw of Laguna Beach, Calif., and children, Rex and Archie.
He will be missed as well by his step-great-grandchildren, who knew him as their own grandpa: Elijah, Liberty, David, Lei Livety, Zeke and Lilly. Buzz is also grieved by close nieces and nephews Carol Stranahan, Connie Wilde, Gary Bradshaw, and James and William Hansel.
A funeral service will be held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ketchum, Idaho, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 1:30 p.m. At a later date, a celebration of Buzz's life will be held in Southern California.
The Bradshaw family gratefully thanks all those who have offered their support and help and asks that in lieu of flowers, gifts in the memory of Buzz be made to any of three organizations that helped the Bradshaws during Buzz's final days: Hospice and Palliative Care of the Wood River Valley, Box 4320, Ketchum, ID 83340; St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center, 100 Hospital Drive, Ketchum, ID 83340; or St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Box 1070, Sun Valley, ID 83353.
Arrangements are under the care of Wood River Chapel. Friends are invited to leave a condolence or light a candle at www.woodriverchapel.com.