Robert Lee Bradford II, former Wisconsin, Minnesota newspaper publisher, dies at 80

Robert Lee Bradford II, a longtime newspaper publisher in Minnesota and Wisconsin, died Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. He was 80.

Robert Lee Bradford II
Robert Lee Bradford II

Bradford was born Nov. 4, 1938, in Bertha, Minn., to Robert Lee and Jeanne Milbrath Bradford. His father was publisher of the Verndale Sun and Moose Lake Star Gazette.

After graduating from Moose Lake High School, Bradford attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and in 1960, graduated from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. His first job out of college was at the Austin (Minn.) Daily Herald before he returned to Moose Lake to work alongside his father at the Star Gazette.

On July 14, 1962, Bradford and his wife, Betsy Oswald Bradford, were married in New Ulm, Minn. They had three children together — Robert III, Elizabeth and Justin — and three grandchildren.

Bradford went on to buy numerous newspapers over the years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including the New Richmond News and (Grantsburg) Burnett County Sentinel. He was named Publisher of the Year by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association in 1973.

Bradford’s great-great-grandfather was Lt. Col. George Armistead, who was commander of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. Armistead, upon arriving at Fort McHenry, ordered a flag large enough for the British to see from a long distance. That flag became known as the Star-Spangled Banner Flag, which inspired the poem and United States national anthem by Francis Scott Key.

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