Distinguished Alumnus
Charter Class of 2013
Byron Bradford
(October 28, 1938 - October 14, 2020)

AHS Class of 1956

Byron Bradford was a teacher and coach at Arcola for forty-nine years. During that time he taught 6th grade, JH math, social studies and P.E. He also coached basketball and track. As a high school teacher he was an instructor of Drivers Education, Health, P.E. and served as a Guidance Counselor. His high school coaching included football, basketball, baseball and golf.

Byron was born October 20, 1938 the son of Chase and Joyce Bradford. Brad has lived in the Hindsboro area his entire life. Byron and Jean Miller were married on March 30, 1958. They have a daughter Marla Chrisagis and one granddaughter.

While attending AHS Byron was a center on Lou Baker’s undefeated football teams of 1954 and 1955. Brad was also involved in the class play, Torch staff, Lettermen’s Club, Arco-Lite and FFA. He spent much of his after school and summer time working on the farm with his father Chase. After graduation Byron attended Eastern Illinois University where he got his BS and MS degrees in Education. He began his teaching and coaching career in 1961. He retired in 1994, but stayed on part time until 2010.

Mr. Bradford was an excellent teacher, coach and role model for all students. He was greatly influenced by three of the greatest coaches in AHS history. He played for Lou Baker’s powerhouse teams from 1952-1955. He coached with his mentor and best friend Bob Avery on the legendary AHS basketball team in 1963-1964. He then coached for twenty-nine years with Steve Thomas as they took teams to the State Football Title game in 1977, 1978, 1985, 1988 and 1991 and winning in ’78, ’85 and ’88. A mere 9 points kept the Purple Riders from being in 4 more title games. The record during those 29 years was 204-88-2. They had 11 undefeated regular season teams and 14 playoff teams in the 5 and 6 class system. From 1984-1993 Arcola was 46-4 in LOVC games with all 4 losses being by an extra point. Brad was also an assistant under Joe Marks when the Purple Riders returned to the title game in 1995 finishing second. Coach Bradford was respected as the best line coach in central Illinois. His former players could attest to the fact that he always took the first five minutes of halftime to get all blocking assignments and schemes corrected. Both Steve Thomas and Byron Bradford are in the Illinois Football Coaches Hall of Fame. Along with their wives Jean Bradford and Judy Thomas, they were Grand Marshals of the 1994 Broom Corn Festival.

Coach Bradford’s contribution to AHS and the community extends well beyond the gridiron and the superb won-lost record. He exemplifies the characteristics and traditional values that have made small towns the backbone of this country. Lucky for Arcola he decided to remain in the area, and by doing so has given back tremendously in his forty-nine years at Arcola High School. As both teacher and coach he has been a fantastic role model to hundreds of young men in sports, students in the classroom, for other teachers as well as the entire community. He earned the respect of players, opposing coaches and his peers through his deeds, actions, character and leadership.

Of the over 600 games Arcola has won in football since 1894, Coach Bradford has been a part of nearly 300 wins as a player and coach. As a tribute to this excellence, in 2002 the football field at Arcola was fittingly named Thomas-Bradford Field. Byron Bradford has most likely had more positive impact on the students at AHS than any other individual since Arcola graduated its first class in 1881.

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Last Revision November 10, 2017