Jimmy Bradford passes away at 76

Built family firm into one of the nation's leading regional investment banks

James C. Bradford Jr.,  whose family name symbolized Nashville's bygone era as the "Wall Street of the South," died of cancer this afternoon at his home. He was 76.

A graduate of Princeton University, Bradford joined J.C. Bradford & Co. in 1959 after serving in the U.S. Air Force and working at Lehman Brothers in New York. As a partner in the brokerage his father had founded in 1927, he presided over a period of substantial growth for Bradford & Co.

Among the local companies for which the firm handled stock offerings were Shoney’s, Amsurg, HCA, Central Parking, Healthways, Corrections Corporation of America, and Ingram Industries. By 1996, the firm had 850 brokers in 88 offices. It managed or co-managed 50 public offerings that year.

As the securities industry evolved in the 1990s, Bradford and his partners came to believe that smaller firms could not compete effectively with Wall Street's titans. Rumors that the firm might be sold first emerged in January 2000. On April 27 of that year, it revealed plans for a $620 million cash sale to PaineWebber, which itself was purchased by Swiss bank UBS months later. Jimmy Bradford and his family reaped more than $70 million in the deal.

Bradford was active in the leadership of the National Association of Securities Dealers and served on the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange from 1987 to 1993. He served as a trustee of both Montgomery Bell Academy and Ensworth School, chairing the latter institution's board in the 1980s. He also served on the boards of Baptist Hospital, the Nashville Opera Association and Peabody College.

Surviving him are his wife of 42 years, Lillian "Tooty" Bradford, and sons Jay and Bryan Bradford, as well as a sister, Eleanor Currie.

A funeral service is set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Saint George’s Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Road, Nashville. Visitation will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the family home, 530 Belle Meade Boulevard. The family has stated that in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Robertson-Ellis Color Garden at Cheekwood, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Alive Hospice.