Harwich Loses Longtime Resident To COVID-19

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — Julie Bradley, well-known in the town's business community, became the first local resident to succumb to the COVID-19 virus. She passed away at home on March 28 after a brief battle with the virus. She was 59.

Board of Health Director Meggan Eldredge informed selectmen of the death in the board’s meeting Wednesday night. Despite the state Department of Public Health recommending that local officials not release specific numbers in the communities, Eldredge said Mrs. Bradley's death had already been publicized on social media.

“It’s a milestone,” Eldredge said. “It’s a serious virus and it’s affecting us.” She urged the public to take every measure possible to protect against the virus.

Mrs. Bradley was a smoker and reportedly had underlying health issues. As of Tuesday, two other deaths from the coronavirus had been reported in Barnstable County, including Rev. Dr. Richard Ottaway of Brewster, a retired Episcopal priest who was associated with Christ Church Episcopal in Harwich Port.

Mrs. Bradley worked as a sales administrator at Allen Harbor Marine Service for nearly a decade and was considered a vital part of the everyday workings of the business, Allen Harbor Marine Service owner Craig LeBlanc said. She sold boats, engines and trailers while handling the administrative duties of the sales department and assisted the accounting department. She also served as marketing and social director for the company.

“This pandemic we’re all struggling with truly hit home this week with the loss of a dear friend and longtime employee, Julie Bruchu Bradley. I just witnessed someone very close to me go from first symptoms to passing in a matter of five days,” LeBlanc wrote on the business's Facebook page.

“As I sit in my remote office in my living room at home, I think about what I love about my job and it’s the members and their employees and helping to promote and advocate for them. We are all one family in Harwich and this has really hit too close and makes you truly appreciate every day and all the people around you,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cyndi Williams said.

“A wonderful memory of Julie Bradley is how she wanted to have Allen Harbor Marine more involved in the chamber and she joined the parade committee,” Williams said. “She wanted Allen Harbor Marine to host one of our monthly Business After Hours and she was so excited and we had a lot of fun, and laughs as she planned it with me. Julie was wonderful, she was energetic and positive and always wanted to go above and beyond. Her energy and spirit will be missed.”

“She was my contact for advertising and worked with me on ads for Allen Harbor Marine,” said Debra DeCosta, advertising manager for The Chronicle. “Julie was always pleasant and easy to work with. My thoughts to her family and the Allen Harbor Marine family who will feel the void I’m sure.”

LeBlanc said on Thursday Allen Harbor Marine Service employees are quarantined, which expires on April 6. He said Mrs. Bradley’s last day of work was Monday, March 23, and the business closed down on Tuesday. To his knowledge all the employees are OK, he said.

LeBlanc said he has not decided what will happen next with the business, which is considered essential and could open as of April 7. If that happens, the operation will not be open to the public, but work on boats might get underway. If so, social distancing will be practiced among employees and there will be disinfectant utilized throughout the buildings.

LeBlanc said he lost track of the number of responses to a letter sent to customers and the Facebook post. Many people were remembering Mrs. Bradley and providing anecdotes of how she assisted them with their boating needs. “The outpouring of support from the customers has been amazing,” LeBlanc said.

Bradley spent 40 years with her husband, Joel Bradley. She leaves behind her daughter, Amelia Tracy and her husband Christian, and her granddaughter Pearl, as well as brothers and their families.

Bradley worked in the hospitality industry for much of her life. Locally people may remember her as a bartender at L’Alouette. She and her husband traveled from Cape Cod to Florida enhancing the lives of many others with their talents in the food and beverage business in the finest resorts and golf clubs.

“A devoted beach goer, Julie especially enjoyed full days on the outer beach and was always happy to have your company as long as you committed to a full day of sun and sea. For years Julie helped her parents on their turkey farm in Hardwick, Vt., and she still enjoyed Thanksgiving, preparing the harvest for family and friends. She was a good cook and could make a tasty apple pie,” her obituary states.

Bradley was a congregant of Holy Trinity Church in West Harwich and a longtime prayer leader. She was instrumental in keeping the Holy Vigil at the church's Columbarium. Services have been postponed due to the pandemic. Notes of comfort can be left at www.MorrisOConnorBlute.com.