Remembering Chris Bradley: Until the end, a man of faith

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Chris' guiding force, through good times and bad, has been his faith.

It is what sustained him and his family through his final hours.

Those who knew him best say Chris stood firm, that death was not the end.

In what he chose as one of his final public statements, Chris spoke of his unshakable faith, in a video produced by the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church.

"Knowing that God loves you and that you're saved, and that you have eternal life. And when you realize that, it's not really an end. it's a new beginning,” he said in the video.

Since 2004, Chris' home church has been King Avenue United Methodist, led since 2006 by Rev. John Keeny.

"He started as head meteorologist at Channel 10 around that time. And so we kind of tracked how well each of us were being received: me at King Avenue, and him by the viewership at Channel 10,” Keeny laughed. "He said, ‘John it just dawned on me that we started about the same time in our current positions. And I was just wondering, have you been 100 percent received?’ And I said ‘Well, pretty much, but not by everybody,’ and I said, ‘What about you Chris?’ And he said, ‘No, not everybody. Sometimes I get emails.’ ‘Aww gee Chris, that's hard to believe.’"

The Bradley-Krauss family goes back even further with Rev. Don Wallick.

"The first thing that comes to mind for me when you say Chris, is a depth of kindness that is rare to find in another human being,” Wallick said.

Together, Wallick and Keeny guided Chris and his husband Jason through coming out publicly as a couple, and the glorious addition of their children, Spencer and Maria.

"When the challenges would come in life, it's not that he didn't feel the challenge, and it's not that he sometimes didn't feel hurt or upset, but he always came back to that he knew that God was walking with him every step of the way.”

They would face no challenge greater than Chris' diagnosis of cancer.

"When Chris and I talked about his dying, he struck me as a person who wasn't struggling not to die,” said Keeny. “A lot of people might fight death because they just don't want to die. But that was never an issue for Chris. Chris was, in his struggle with the cancer, was choosing to live. And there's a big difference between not wanting to die, and wanting to live. And Chris was a person who wanted to live. Because he appreciated life so much."

"Even in the midst of realizing that the end would be close,” said Wallick. “He's chosen to live with love and faith and generosity. And I think, my gosh, I hope we all can do that when we know it's coming. Actually, maybe we should be doing it all the time."

But even the power of faith doesn't erase the pain.

"The last couple of weeks of Chris' life, I'd leave the house feeling better for having visited him,” said Keeny, crying. “And I'd think, ‘gosh I'm going to miss being picked up by Chris.’"

"It's hard to watch one of the great shining lights in a community go out,” said Wallick. "To know that that bright shining light of faith and love and generosity is going to go out, the world will be a little darker, at least for a while. And I'll just choose to believe, like Chris believes, that he is in God's hands, and it is okay."

"It's going to be a real loss to me,” said Keeny through tears. “It's a real loss to our church. The church is going to grieve a great deal. I believe that in the midst of our grief what will get us through that will be the deep gratitude for the blessing that Chris has been to us."

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