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Richard Hyatt: Bradley bears up St. Francis during crisis

Bradley bears up St. Francis

Bo Bradley was a high school hero, an all-state football player who could outrun everybody in town.

He earned a scholarship to the University of Georgia, carrying with him a promise of greatness.

His glory years went away in the wink of a young girl's eye, but the Richard Y. Bradley of today is more of a star than the promising young man who scored two touchdowns in a high school all-star game and anchored a Columbus High relay team that made it to the state finals.

Recently Bradley has become the primary author of an important chapter in the story of St. Francis Hospital. He has been the steady hand that breathed new life into a facility that almost went away.

Bradley is a respected attorney and chairman of the hospital's Board of Trustees. He took over at a time St. Francis was under siege. Funds were missing and no one could account for the $30 million. Two administrators left, including the chief executive officer. Nearly 3,000 jobs were in jeopardy, and 300 doctors tried to protect their patients' futures and their own.

Standing in the way of disaster was Bradley and his beleaguered board. He was a picture of calmness as he did what had to be done to preserve an institution so important to the community.

Last week the sale of St. Francis to LifePoint Health of Brentwood, Tenn., was announced. A $200,000 windfall of taxes was celebrated, but most of us were thankful that the hospital will continue to care and heal.

Bradley was steadfast through months of turmoil. Those who know his background were not surprised, for they understand who he is.

His father died when he was young, and a family that loved him rescued him. Sports was his solace and he was a natural.

A visit to the Muscogee Airport in 1958 damaged that potential. Bradley walked through a glass railing on the observation tower, mangling his leg and detouring his football career. He was never the same.

He turned to law. He has enjoyed a distinguished career including time on the University of Georgia Athletic Board. Without that injury, who knows what direction his life might have taken.

The quiet toughness Bo Bradley exhibited as a young man was rediscovered when his hometown needed him. Once again, he is a hero.

Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at