Last updated on June 6th, 2016 at 04:07 pm
Douglas B. “Buzz” Bradshaw, the well-known Western food broker, died Nov. 7 at his home in Ketchum, Idaho, just two months before celebrating his 102nd birthday.
Bradshaw got into the food business via honey, which led to his nickname Buzz. His father, Rex, had learned beekeeping in New York. Rex had been an infant when his parents brought him to the U.S. from Ireland. As a young man, Rex moved to Idaho and started a honey business in 1905. His children were involved from a young age. Buzz’s sister Edith graded the honey, and each year, Buzz and his brother Ken left school a month early to help when the honeybees began to swarm.
After graduating from Payette High School in Idaho, 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.
In September 1934 Buzz married Myrle Robertson, whom he had met at an American Legion Hall dance a few months earlier. They had two sons, 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 the “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, renaming it Bradshaw Incorporated. Buzz’s 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 in food, beverage and housewares, most notably Bradshaw International, which has become the national market leader in kitchenware. Company management today includes his grandsons, Brett and Scott.
As he approached his 90th birthday, Buzz 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 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, to cover world history, foreign policy, sports standings or the day he and Myrle spent traveling over Afghanistan’s Khyber Pass.
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 Los Angeles to receive this award.
Buzz leaves behind Myrle, his wife of 77 years, and his sons Doug (Nancy), Gardnerville, Nev., and Ben, Sun Valley, Idaho. He is also survived by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Laurie (Eric) Mensing, McLean, Va., and children Michael, John and Lauren; Scott (Wendy) Bradshaw, Temecula, Calif., and children Cameron and Kyle; Anne (Jim) Hines, Cardiff, Calif., and children Connor and Chad; Karin Failla, Santa Monica, Calif.; Darin Failla, Sacramento, CA; Jill (Taylor) Pillsbury, Laguna Beach, Calif., and children Jack, Audrey and Charlie; and Brett (Samantha) Bradshaw, Laguna Beach, 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.
A funeral service will be held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ketchum on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 1:30 p.m.
At a later date, a celebration of Buzz’ 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’ final days: Hospice and Palliative Care of the Wood River Valley (Box 4320/Ketchum), St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center (100 Hospital Drive/Ketchum) or St. Thomas Episcopal Church (Box 1070/Sun Valley).
In the photo: Buzz pictured in his winter home in Indian Wells, California shortly after his 100th Birthday. (Taken by Bob Reeves)