First Lady of LA Dies - Ethel Bradley, wife of Tom

Ethel Bradley, the longest-reigning first lady of Los Angeles as the wife of the city's first black mayor, Tom Bradley, has died. She was 89.

Ethel Bradley died Tuesday at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, according to the LA Times.

The cause of death was pneumonia, said Bee Canterbury Lavery, who was Tom Bradley's protocol chief.

The Bradleys lived in Leimert Park on Welland Avenue. Their house has a small plaque in commemoration. The Mayor has a school named after him in this area.

When the Bradleys bought their first home in Leimert Park, they had to use a white intermediary because of deed restrictions.

The LA Times: "The couple had moved from their six-room house in Leimert Park to Getty House, a 6,000-square-foot mansion, at the beginning of Bradley's second term in 1977. Getty Oil had donated the home to the city in 1975 and it became the mayor's official residence.

"From the day Ethel Bradley moved in, she took seriously a first lady's duty to keep the mansion in order -- even though there was no budget or staff -- and to throw a party that guests would talk about the next morning.

"Nobody could be a caretaker for this house like I've been, seven days a week, 24 hours a day," Ethel Bradley told The Times just before moving out in 1993. "I think I did a beautiful job and left things better than when I first came."

"There was plenty of room to house her collections: More than 100 hats (she rarely went out without one), racks of evening gowns, heirloom crystal and her prized possession -- a glass case filled with autographed baseballs. Yet the mansion's three floors and 19 rooms had always felt a bit like a prison to the 5-foot-2 1/2 -inch Bradley, and she could not wait to escape.

"It's been 30 years of my life I've given up. It's time for me to have a life of my own," she said.

"She was 74 when they left Getty House for a 1940s two-story home in the View Park area of Los Angeles.

"Away from the limelight, the Bradleys had five more years together. He suffered a stroke in 1996 that left him unable to speak clearly and died two years later.

"In 2006, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors honored her upon the opening of the Ethel Bradley Early Education and Health Career Center in South Los Angeles. The idea for the center had originated with the Black Women's Forum, which Ethel Bradley co-founded in 1978 to help motivate black women to become community leaders.

"Ethel Mae Arnold was born in Texas on Feb. 2, 1919, one of eight children of Benjamin and Lucille Arnold. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1930.

"At age 15, she graduated from Jefferson High School and attended Los Angeles City College for two years.

"She worked as a part-time model and part-time singer, once dubbing a song for the hit movie "Vogues of 1938," which was released in 1937.

"Her father was a painting contractor who introduced her to baseball and set her up as the owner of a beauty salon at 54th Street and Central Avenue. She catered to leading figures in black society in 1941, the year she gave up the shop to marry Bradley, The Times reported in 1983.

"He had first seen her when they were teenagers singing in the choir at New Hope Baptist Church. The newlyweds lived next door to her parents in Los Angeles and had two daughters by 1945.

"The Bradleys needed a white intermediary in 1950 to sidestep racial covenants when they bought their first house on Welland Avenue in Leimert Park in the city's Crenshaw District. The couple also encountered other examples of the racism of the era and were refused entrance to hotels and restaurants, according to a 1998 Times article."

ADD me: What did she say about seeing Obama elected?

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