DisPatches, Winter 2000-2001
After 25 years, college still wonders: 'Who is this guy?'by Maureen Green
Bobby Bradford stretches the legs of spinal trauma victim Bob Devilbiss, whose trained Canine Companion, Unis, stands watch.
As a colleague of Bobby Bradford in Disabled Students Programs & Services (DSPS), I have often wondered exactly what his job is. In fact, the question seems to be: is there anything this guy doesn't do around here?
I knew that he works with students in the Adaptive Physical Education classes, offering massage and stretching as well as instruction and assistance around the gym, weight room and swimming pool.
In our small and acoustically open office space, I listen to him tutor a variety of students in a variety of subjects. He videotapes every event of any importance, and acts as the A-V specialist in the program. He keeps the small fleet of loaner wheelchairs in the back storage room working and available.
Bobby is also our media specialist, creating and maintaining our program's web site. And, last but not least, he edits our newsletter, the illustrious DisPatches.
So who is this man of mystery? His job title is "Special Needs Technician," but what the heck does that mean? (I haven't mentioned that he also seems to have a key role in the maintenance of morale, carrying the burden of Chief Teaser and Flatterer for the program).
I began to ask questions to find out.
It seems Bobby first came to College of Marin in 1975. He started out as a full-time student, working part-time on campus (eventually in nine different departments, that he can remember offhand). He produced a cable TV show in the video studio, served the College of Marin Times as Sports Editor and Ad/Business Manager (picking up five writing awards from the Journalism Association of Community Colleges), and drifted into student government, unaware of his looming destiny in DSPS.
Unaware, that is, until 1983, when George Barker, an Adaptive PE student and writer, approached Bobby about collaborating on a videotape describing the Adaptive PE program. George wrote the script; Bobby directed, taped, edited, scored and narrated.
Bobby soon started working in the Adaptive PE program ("hanging around the gym with my friends," he calls it), expanding his role over the years and becoming the beloved and indispensable figure that he is today.
Ah, but there have been whispers of another side to Bobby Bradford. Something about bohemian shenanigans and hippie daze.
Born in Worcester, Massachusetts ("at that time," he says, "a charming Old World industrial slum"), Bobby is a descendent of Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony, with a few black sheep speckling the line of descent. Upon graduating from high school at the tender age of 16, Bobby immediately ran off to California.
"My favorite view of Worcester," he says, "was in the rear-view mirror."
Coming to San Francisco, Bobby began a career in music and made generous contributions to the Summer of Love.
In the '70s, he found his way up to College of Marin to begin a long and fruitful association. Bobby has completed two Associate of Arts degrees (in Communications and Humanities) and was working on a third in Multimedia Studies before being sidetracked by his current love affair with the Art Department. He edits three newsletters and is working on a third novel.
Bobby has occasionally departed from College of Marin long enough to travel the world, most notably in 1986, when he spent a year in Amsterdam, supporting himself playing music while writing a novella. He currently freelances in various media away from the college as Bobby Bradford Productions.
On the personal side, "I've been blessed with a great girlfriend, a wonderful daughter, and three terrific grandchildren," says Mr. Bradford. And DSPS has been blessed with him.[Writer Maureen Green is a Speech Therapist with College of Marin's Disabled Students Programs & Services]
see related story, Our Friend Bobby