Retired Parsippany Police Lt. James D. Bradley died Friday at Morristown Medical Center in Morristown after a brief illness. He was 55 years old.
The Denville native lived in Parsippany for 46 years before moving to Rockaway in 2003.
Bradley graduated from Parsippany Hills High School in 1975. He then went on to higher education, graduating from the 172nd Municipal Police Class at the New Jersey State Police Training Center in Sea Girt in 1981 and earning a bachelors degree in chemistry from Fairleigh Dickinson University two years later.
Joining Parsippany Police in 1985, he was assigned to the Patrol Division where he became a member of the elite Emergency Response Team and earned multiple unit and command citations, according to an official police statement.
Bradley moved to the PPD Traffic Enforcement Section in 1987 and earned an Exceptional Duty Medal in 1989 when, according to former Chief Michael T. Filippello, Bradley “displayed exceptional courage and professionalism in the capture and arrest of an individual wanted for homicide.”
Shortly after earning the Exceptional Duty Medal, the police statement continued, he was promoted to sergeant. Bradley remained in the Traffic Section, undergoing specialized training in accident reconstruction and advanced traffic engineering for police officers. The education he received prepared him to assist in conducting traffic studies for the township that earned him praise.
He became Lt. Bradley in January 2003 and took on the role of shift command for the Patrol Division, a job he performed until his retirement in 2005.
Police Chief Paul Philipps' service intersected with Bradley's. He told Patch that they had been friends for more than three decades.
"He was a bright and kind hearted man with a good sense of humor," he said.
"The men and women of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Department are honored to have had the opportunity to serve with such an esteemed colleague," said the department statement.
Former Mayor Marceil "Mimi" Letts remembered the former officer as a credit to the department and the town.
"Jim was one of my favorite officers," she said. "Did his job well, stayed focused on police work and was always pleasant to work with."
Bradley also had a lengthy volunteer career as a coach for Par-Troy Little League East and was involved in baseball with a variety of town organizations.
"Jim coached my son Mike back in Little League and, besides for my wife Sue, son David and myself, he has probably been at more of Michael's games than anyone else," recalled township Recreation Superintendent Joseph Plescia, who remembers his friend as an "old-fashioned good guy" who was passionate about baseball. "Whether it was PTE, Central Middle School, Parsippany High School, the American Legion or the adult men’s league, Jim always seemed to be there. You know, it seemed Jim was at everyone’s games; he probably holds some unofficial record for attending Parsippany baseball games!"
According to Plescia, Bradley "always smiled, never yelled and always coached the kids. He wanted to win just like everyone else but always taught the kids the game and good sportsmanship, something that is hard to find in a person nowadays."
PTLLE Player Agent Eric Hubner said Bradley's two sons brought their dad into the little league orbit. Eventually, he ended up serving as a coach, manager and board member.
"Jim ran our 11-year-old post-season tournament before Little League created a national [10/11] all-star tournament for this age group," Hubner said. "After his boys moved out of Little League and he had retired from the police department, Jim would still come back to watch our PTE and high school teams play and root them on."
Plescia said Bradley was missed Saturday, the day Michael Plescia, now nearly 23, debuted as a new PTELL team manager.
"I always assumed that Jim would be there. Mike, Sue, David and I would have loved it," Plescia said. "I know he will still be there, just in a different set of bleachers, with a better view and good company."
Bradley is survived by his wife, Diane Lynn Sprang Bradley, sons Dustin Craig of Orange and Travis Michael of Rockaway; mother, Audrey Sutton Bradley of Vero Beach, Fla,; sister Catherine Rehfuss of Rockaway; and grandson, Cameron Michael.
Viewing hours will be held at Par-Troy Funeral Home, 95 Parsippany Road, Tuesday from 6-9 p.m. The funeral will be held at the home at 9 a.m. Wednesday, to be followed by a Liturgy of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. at St. Christopher Roman Catholic Church. 1050 Littleton Road. Interment will take place at Greenwood Cemetery in Boonton.