LEEDS - Inge D. Bradbury, a devoted wife, loving mother and first-generation American who treasured her German heritage, died Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at Clover Health Care in Auburn after a futile battle with dementia. She was 82.
Inge was born in the village of Sulz, Germany, on June 8, 1932, the daughter of Johannes and Hedwig Doll. Her childhood on a farm in the region of the Black Forest was interrupted when World War II broke out and the family moved to the suburbs of industrial Stuttgart, where her father found factory employment.
These were dark years in her life, as the war claimed her beloved elder brother, Hans, and plunged the family into danger and deprivation. Although she was reluctant to talk about these experiences, over the years she disclosed details of nights huddled in bomb shelters as a young teenager, and days foraging or stealing potatoes, cabbage and lumps of coal to stave off hunger and cold.
After the war she married briefly and gave birth to a son. The man who was to become her second husband and lifelong partner, Harry A. Bradbury, entered her life as a young G.I. from Maine who was stationed in postwar Germany, and who brought Inge and her son back to Maine after his discharge from the Army.
The couple lived in Orrington for several years, but the military life appealed to Harry, and he enlisted in the Navy, beginning a long career that saw Inge take on the responsibility of raising their growing family while her husband was on assignments. During his deployments, including several to Vietnam during the 1960s, Inge was both mother and father to their children, handing out love and discipline in whatever measure was needed.
Inge was naturalized in the early 1960s and was proud of her American citizenship, even as she nourished the German characteristics that were a part of her identity. She was a ferocious housekeeper who pinched her pennies but was generous with her affection, not to mention her opinions. As a cook she had few peers, drawing on a catalog of recipe she kept mostly in her head to create delicious meals, including a cheesecake that could bring a man to his knees.
She worked part time outside the home as her children grew and conditions permitted, and after Harry's retirement, they settled in Washington County, where Inge worked in a civil service job at the commissary in Cutler.
The couple traveled frequently to Germany during these years, where Inge enjoyed visiting family, strolling in the Black Forest and sampling a vast array of German white wines, which she considered the nectar of the gods. She also treasured times relaxing and hosting guests for cookouts and loon-watching at the family camp on Hadley Lake in East Machias.
Inge was predeceased by her husband, Harry A. Bradbury, a son, Harry Jr.. and two brothers, Hans Doll and Hubert Doll. She is survived by two sons, Dieter Bradbury of Portland and Larry C. Bradbury and his wife, Karen, of Ocala, Florida, her daughter, Susan B. English and her husband, Robert, of Wales, a sister, Edith D. Messick of Mountain Home, Arkansas, and a treasured sister-in-law, Thelma B. Brackett of Augusta.
The family would like to give special thanks to Pastor Rick Ness of Wales Presbyterian Church for his devoted and compassionate ministry to Inge, Dr. Thomas C. Hattan, the staff of Limerick and Galway houses at Clover Health Care in Auburn, and Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice for their tender and attentive care.
A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday, May 2, at Wales Presbyterian Church, Route 132, Wales. A private committal will be held at Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Augusta.