READING, Pa. — Inspired by the opportunity to memorialize her husband and support the community that brought them together, Penn State graduate Barbara Bradley has stepped forward with a gift of $350,000 to establish the John and Barbara Bradley Scholarship at Penn State Berks.
First preference in awarding the scholarship will go to graduates of Daniel Boone Area High School in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, where Bradley herself taught elementary-age children, and once awarded will be renewable across multiple years. In combination with existing sources of student-directed funding such as Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, the scholarship will mean that undergraduate recipients will have their tuition fully covered, enabling most to graduate free of debt.
“As Penn Staters, John and I deeply valued the role education played in enriching our lives, and as a teacher and a mother, I found it so meaningful to open young minds to the world around them,” Barbara said. “But I also heard from so many young people worried about the cost of tuition and the burden of debt, and I realized it was within my power to help them over those financial hurdles.”
Birdsboro is located 13 miles southeast of Penn State Berks, which enrolls, on average, between 10 and 12 students from Daniel Boone Area High School each year.
“Because of her deep roots in the Reading area, Barbara understands the vital role Penn State Berks plays in opening doors to talented students who might not otherwise see a pathway to experiencing a world-class education,” said Todd Migliaccio, interim chancellor of Penn State Berks. “This endowment will be an engine of opportunity for graduates of Daniel Boone Area High School, and it will be a powerful reminder of all Barbara and John have contributed to the growth and success of the greater Reading community.”
In addition to helping students, the endowment honors the legacy of Barbara’s husband, John Bradley, with whom she shared a 44-year marriage until his death from cancer in 2014.
John was born and raised in Reading, where his father, John Sr., was a prominent attorney; and attended Daniel Boone Area High School. Barbara was a native of Pittsburgh. The couple met as students at University Park through Greek life when Barbara was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.
John, then a junior studying finance, had stumbled across a photo of Barbara petting a dog with her sorority sisters, and, instantly smitten, blurted, “I like the girl with the dog.” They had their first date on Valentine’s Day, and the match stuck.
John completed his undergraduate studies in finance and pursued his juris doctorate from Dickinson School of Law. Barbara earned her bachelor’s degree with a focus on elementary education from the College of Education in 1970. The couple married that same year, and Barbara began her teaching career at the fourth-grade level in the Carlisle area. When John completed his studies in 1972, he was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the family relocated to Reading.
From 1972 to 1994, John was partner at the local law firm Rhoda, Stoudt, and Bradley, followed by a long stint at the firm Masano Bradley LLP. Among his many professional distinctions was his longtime service as a member of the Berks County Bar Association, including serving as its president in 1996. He also became the solicitor of the Berks County Municipal Authority.
His volunteerism included his service as president of the Birdsboro Rotary and as chairperson of the board of AAA Reading-Berks beginning in 1997 and the organization's solicitor and general counsel in 1974. He also devoted many years to service on the finance committee of Immaculate Conception Church, where the Bradleys were members.
In addition to working as a substitute and full-time teacher, Barbara served her community in a variety of volunteer roles, including as a member of the Junior League of Reading and as past president of the Boone Area Library. Today, she remains active as a member of the Friends of the Reading Hospital, an organization committed to providing equipment, training and programming to support patients and staff in Berks County.
The family’s ties to the local schools also deepened over the years. As a regional lawyer, John served as solicitor for the Daniel Boone Area School District and the Reading School District. Their two children, Ryan and Sara, would go on to attend Daniel Boone. Later in life, Barbara went on to teach third graders in the same district for eight years.
“John just loved being part of a tight-knit community,” Barbara said. “He had a special quality of being able to effortlessly bring people together and have fun while doing it. I know he would have loved the idea of creating a bridge to success that stretched from Daniel Boone School District to Penn State Berks.”
The Bradleys’ gift qualifies them to become members of the Mount Nittany Society, a special group founded in 1977 to recognize the generosity of supporters who have made gifts to the University that reach or exceed $250,000 in commitments. The couple had previously made a gift to name a staff office in the Carlisle Building in honor of John’s father, a class of 1948 graduate of the Dickinson School of Law.
With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016 to 2022, philanthropy is helping to sustain the University’s tradition of education, research and service to communities across the commonwealth and around the globe. Scholarships enable our institution to open doors and welcome students from every background, support for transformative experiences allows our students and faculty to fulfill their vast potential for leadership, and gifts toward discovery and excellence help us to serve and impact the world we share. To learn more about the impact of giving and the continuing need for support, please visit raise.psu.edu.