A good time to remember Holbrook "Hobey" Bradley

He took the USG to court for age discrimination 33 years ago

Image from Amazon

I  recently learned that the FSO who took the federal government to court for age discrimination passed away last month. Hobey Bradley was the plaintiff in Bradley v. Vance; he won in the lower court, but the Supremes reversed the decision and sided with the government in an 8-1 decision in 1979.  

We note that Hobey took the government to court in 1977 when he was 61 years old.  The case was decided by the Supreme Court in 1979 when he was 63 years old. Two years after that, when Hobey was 65 years old, Congress reversed course and again raised the mandatory Foreign Service retirement age to 65 in the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (as it had been from 1924 to 1946). In 2010, Hobey died at the age of 93.

Below is an excerpt from signonsanddiego by Caroline Dipping:

In 1977, Holbrook “Hobey” Bradley sued the federal government for age discrimination. The then-61-year-old Foreign Service member objected to the service’s mandatory retirement age of 60.

Like everything in Mr. Bradley’s colorful life — be it as a correspondent during World War II to writing his memoir at age 90 — he prevailed, winning in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia. The government appealed the decision to the Supreme Court and won.

Mr. Bradley died of bladder cancer July 10 at his daughter’s home in Encinitas. He was 93.

Mr. Bradley joined the The Baltimore Sun in 1942 as a police reporter before being assigned a year later to cover the 29th Infantry Division of Maryland training for the invasion of Europe in Devonshire and Cornwall. He was under orders from his editor not to go ashore on D-Day, June 6, 1944, during the assault on Omaha Beach.

“My editor, Neil Swanson, said if I got myself killed, we’d have no one there,” Mr. Bradley told The Sun in a 2005 interview. “On the 7th, I told my ship’s captain I’d be hitting the beach. He said, ‘Not from my ship!’ He was afraid if I kicked the bucket, he’d get the blame. When the next small boat came, I just went down the rope ladder and got in.”

Mr. Bradley was born Sept. 25, 1916, in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, to Alvin and Ruth Bradley. His grandfather, Alvin F. Bradley Sr., was a photographer noted for his portraits of Mark Twain.

He was a 1936 graduate of the Pomfret School in Pomfret, Conn., and earned an archaeology degree from Yale University in 1940. After college, he married Polly Chennery Patterson, the daughter of The Baltimore Sun Publisher Paul C. Patterson.

After the war, Mr. Bradley was a correspondent for Life magazine in Washington, D.C., before returning to Berlin and Nuremburg as an information officer for the U.S. Occupation forces. There, he aided the re-emergence of the German press and was later transferred to Munich and Bavaria as a Kreise Resident Officer in the United States Office of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany.

In 1951, Mr. Bradley joined the Asia Foundation with posts in San Francisco , Ceylon and Indonesia . In 1962, he was a Foreign Service officer for the State Department assigned to the Voice of America Far East news desk.

From 1964 to 1976, Mr. Bradley worked for the United States Information Agency, a job that took him to Korea, Saigon, Turkey, Calcutta and Paris for the peace talks with North Vietnam.

“It was a very exciting life,” said daughter Phoebe Bradley of Encinitas. “It was not just moving to another town, it was moving to an entirely new language and culture. It was an incredible opportunity, and looking back, I loved every moment of it.”
“The most interesting thing was the way he faced his death,” Bradley said. “It was like he faced life: openhearted with an almost childlike curiosity.

“He was fully conscious of the fact he was dying, and he would say to visiting friends, ‘I’m doing something remarkable,’ and they’d say, ‘What is it Hobey?’ And he’d say, ‘I’m dying. I’ve never done this before.’ ”

Read the whole thing here.