The Passing of a Hero - R. Randolph Bradham MD

Dr. H. Biemann Othersen, Jr. (left) visits Dr. Randy Bradham on his blueberry farm.
Dr. H. Biemann Othersen, Jr. visited Dr. Randy Bradham at his home in 2015.

 A letter of gratitude and remembrance from Dr. H. Biemann Othersen, Jr.

Friends and Colleagues,

My personal definition of a hero: an individual with significant accomplishments – often at considerable risk – along with humility and an unwavering personal moral compass.

Dr. Randy Bradham, who recently passed away, fit those qualifications perfectly.

He has long been a mentor to me and, as I have gotten to know him better, he has become a hero.

I first met Randy when I began a surgical residency at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 1957. He was a new faculty member in the Department of Surgery. Dr. Fred Kredel was the Chairman but he was developing health problems that forced Randy gradually to become the de facto Chairman.

Randy was strict but fair and always honest in his dealings with the surgical residents. He was a good surgeon and I admired his qualities of leadership and his humility.

I later learned – but not from him – that he had served an active role in the U.S. Army in the invasion of Nazi-occupied France in 1944. After the war, he finished college, medical school at MUSC and a surgical residency (Michigan).

My co-residents, Gilbert Bradham (Randy’s brother), Julian Buxton, and I observed how Randy played a major role in preserving and improving the surgical training programs.

He was the steady hand at the helm.

Randy apparently was offered the opportunity to become Chair of the Department but he had made a commitment to begin a residency in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery and he honored that contract. The search committee would not wait. What a shame!

I have subsequently learned from his three books the details of his service in the army. In those writings, the pronoun “I” is rarely found. In his last book, Old Friends, he demonstrated his artistic talents as a photographer.

When Randy retired from surgery in 1995 at age 71, he not only wrote these four books but also managed and developed a commercial blueberry farm (Sweet Blues Farm).

We will all miss Randy, especially those who have received surgical training at MUSC and thus benefitted from the work and wisdom of this individual who – at a critical time – selflessly served as the second full-time Chairman of the Department of Surgery at MUSC.

In 2017, the Curtis P. Artz MUSC Surgical Society recognized Randy as its annual distinguished alumnus. At a luncheon in his honor, Dr. Baliga, our current Chairman, announced an endowment in his honor. The goal of the $10M endowment is to provide the foundation for a program of leadership and professional service intended to become a model for surgical training nationwide.

Won’t you join me in honoring Randy’s contributions through supporting this Endowment so aptly named in his honor? Let’s continue his legacy by giving to The R. Randolph Bradham M.D. Endowment for the Enhancement of Surgical Education at https://connect2.musc.edu/surgery.

If you’d like more information on how you can support the Department of Surgery, please reach out to Vera Ford, Director of Development, at 843-792-1840 or visit musc.edu/surgery/giving.

Sincerely,

 H. Biemann Othersen, Jr. M.D. signature