By Brandon Martin
Fire, rescue, law enforcement and other public safety officials in Martinsville and Henry County bid farewell Wednesday in a somber tribute to a community servant.
Charles “Charlie” Howard Bradshaw, 62, and his wife Sherri Gordon Bradshaw, 63, both of Ridgeway, died Dec. 13, according to a release from the Virginia State Police. Then, a 2017 Ford Explorer traveling on Virginia 173 was struck by a falling tree. The vehicle ran off the left side of the roadway and struck a utility pole and several trees, the release stated.
“The past few days haven’t been easy on our family or our families at Triangle Electric Corporation as well as the volunteers at Horsepasture Fire Department and Rescue Squad. We would like to thank the community for the outpouring of love and support. Triangle Electric also would like to thank everyone that has reached out to offer help and support,” Michael Bradshaw, the couple’s son, wrote in a statement.
The two were laid to rest Thursday in the Horsepasture Christian Church Cemetery, as the community responded with condolences to the family and expressions of appreciation for the couple’s dedication to service.
“The county is saddened to learn that Horsepasture Fire Chief Charles Bradshaw and his wife Sherri died as a result of injuries sustained during a motor vehicle crash,” Henry County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Adams said in a statement. “Chief Bradshaw loved our community and served it well. We are grateful for Chief Bradshaw’s service, unwavering courage as a first responder, and his dedication to protecting citizens. We are also very grateful for the sacrifices made for our community by his wife Sherri. We offer our prayers and condolences. I ask our entire community to pray for Bradshaw’s family, friends, employees, and fellow firefighters.”
Debra Buchanan, vice-chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors and also a life-long friend, said that she was shocked “when I heard about the situation. I had just talked to Charles the night before at the Horsepasture Ruritan meeting. We have been members of the Ruritan Club for many years and we joked and carried on.”
Buchanan added that “good banter” was always included in those conversations, and that also was the case during her final conversation with Charles Bradshaw.
Then, “we were talking about our upcoming high school reunion,” Buchanan said, and explained that “Charles, Sherri and I all went to school together. We graduated together from George Washington Carver High School. We were talking about getting together after the first of the year with a group of people to try to get our reunion started. Charles said, ‘are we really that old?’ I said, ‘well this is our 45th reunion.’ So, we just joked about how old we were getting,” Buchanan recalled.
She also noted that Charles Bradshaw, who had the heart of a public servant, never passed up an opportunity to help.
“If there was anything that ever needed to be done, Charles would be the one to ask you ‘what can I do to help?’ That’s how he was known,” Buchanan said. “He always helped individuals as well as participated in anything that was going on in the Horsepasture community. Charles was always the talker and Sherri was always the listener. Charles never met a stranger.”
For Buchanan, there is no doubt how the couple will be remembered.
“Charles was always a very friendly, caring person,” she said. “Even in high school, every time you saw him, he greeted you. He smiled. You always felt good when you were around him. He was very community-minded. Sherri was quieter in school. She never sought the limelight. She would much rather work behind the scenes, pushing somebody else forward and making them a better person. Sherri provided the support at home that Charles needed so that he could continue working and helping in the community.”
Charles Williams, one of the couple’s friends, said their untimely deaths left a void in the community.
“I get a little emotional, thinking about it,” Williams said. “Charles and Sherri were good people. They will be missed in the community. I guess the main thing about it all is that I’m going to miss my friends. There is a hole left in the community.”