Robert Michael Bradford, husband of Raychel Carlson, and formerly of Harlan, Kentucky, passed away peacefully in his Shepherd, Montana home on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, after a courageous battle with cancer. He was the loving father of Stephen Bradford, Laura Bradford Collett, Christopher Bradford, and Nathan Muri. He was known as “Papaw Mike” to Christopher Blanton, Xavier Rutledge, Katherine Benge, Hannah Collett, Jacob Collett, Gavin Collett, Cameron Bradford, and Madelyn Bradford. The proud brother to Betty Blanton and Lynne King. Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Robert Clarence and Bertha Bradford, sisters Margaret Randall, Alice Bradshaw, Ann Stokes, and Doris Osborne. He is also survived and loved abundantly by multiple nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Mike was born in Wallins, Kentucky, on March 23, 1946, where he completed his elementary and secondary education, graduating as a “Purple Devil” in 1964 with athletic and academic excellence. He continued his love for the game playing at Cumberland College, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1968. After several years as an educator and coach, Mike transitioned into the coal industry working with family and others, later to become an Owner and Operator through the coal boom and into the local decline. During this time, he was active in multiple philanthropic endeavors, an advocate for the progression of local industry as well as serving on the Harlan Independent School Board. His passion for the coal industry led him to Montana in 1997 where he became known as the “Coal Miner” by locals and close friends and remained there until his death.
To those closest to him, Mike will be remembered as a loving husband, father and grandparent, and loyal friend. In honoring his wishes, a service will not be observed at this time.