Don Rogers: A fast friend leaves us
I read in the Sun my friend Marcie Bradley had passed.
Her chances were slim, a return of cancer she had defeated before we met, this time in her brain.
I hoped, oh I hoped, and prayed like lots of others she’d defy the odds as she vowed to do for her young daughter. Such fight, with such good cheer.
I declare her a friend although we met in person only a few times. That’s all it took, I suspect, with anyone she met.
And I was among the most casual of acquaintances, just another part of her job as senior manager of communications at Northstar. The then-VP of communications at Vail Resorts, Kelly Ladyga, a friend from Vail, introduced us via email shortly after I moved to Grass Valley.
I could feel Marcie’s warm embrace immediately, right through the electronics. I wasn’t just another member of the press come to experience the mountain. Or maybe I was, but I didn’t get this impression from her at all. Her joy, yes joy, was infectious.
She met my son and me by the gondola to give us platinum day passes, something new she insisted we try out. I’ll admit it wasn’t hard to accept on a big weekend day, snow fresh and deep, people everywhere. The pass grants entrance to lift lines near the front, perfect for late arrivals up from San Francisco, say.
It’s easy to like someone who practically forces you to sample a great experience. Still, she stood out. For the rest of that 2016-17 season, I looked forward to saying hi to her for a few minutes of conversation when she had time. Just these little golden moments, maybe over coffee.
Some emails, some texts, some quick hellos, and one lunch I thought at the time would be the first of many. She was such great company, too. Not just cheery, but bright and quick and insightful, as well, as I find so many who work at ski resorts.
We talked about everything, life and as happens often with me, worldviews and politics. She confessed quietly she might be more conservative than most in Truckee and at work.
I seem to elicit conversations like this — closet liberals among bankers, outliers, the yin to the group yang. I have this streak in me, though not so quiet as might be most prudent. But I think mainly I’m a good listener, my superpower when I was a reporter.
Marcie’s, too. A big part of her charm was she paid close attention. You could just tell.
Before coming to Northstar, she had similar jobs at Oracle and Sun Microsystems, among others. I viewed her as a coup for the resort, as good a liaison as could be with what had to seem sometimes like a fickle and cranky press, especially when someone died on the mountain.
This is the nightmare for ski resorts. We journalists can get aggressive as resort leaders struggle with what to say and how much, often grieving themselves while having the burden of serving not just the public, but also the legal team and especially the family. Best to know each other as people ahead of time.
Marcie and I didn’t face this toughest of tests in the relationship between ski resort and press, but I already knew she would shine with her empathy, her ability to communicate beyond words, and her intelligence.
I might not have gotten all the information I sought. Journalists and ski resorts do not share the same goals. But I think she would have walked that line well with me, maybe as well as my friend Kelly.
We traded occasional emails during her illness, beginning with the news she had to take time off and was writing from a hospital in San Francisco. I know she fought, hard as she could, for her girl, 7 now. Her husband, too, but the bond with the children for a mom is something even stronger and more poignant.
Coming home last spring, she sounded chipper and sharp on email in reply when I reached out, and I let my hope for her soar. Maybe she’d be back at work at some point this ski season, and I’d see her for a few minutes at the gondola before heading up or over at the Starbucks on my way out. Or maybe lunch. Yes, most definitely.
Meantime, I kept up with her tweets and retweets via email, something like watching a monitor spiking with each new message, a recurring beat.
The most heart-breaking tweet came in August, a simple, “Who doesn’t want more family time at the end of summer???” in support of someone else’s tweet. The last retweet was Sept. 9. The last tweet — “No one deserves it more than you! — on Aug. 25.
Then, oh no and a deep groan, her name popped up at the top of the day’s web traffic on the Sierra Sun site. That was Friday. Then the next day, the next and now Wednesday as I write. Each day the top-viewed story. This never happens, and not for an obituary.
I see in the numbers I’m hardly alone. Here was a woman who left a deep impression during her decade in Truckee, leaving us way too soon at 42.
A celebration of life is planned for her at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Old Greenwood Clubhouse, 13051 Fairway Drive, Truckee. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to http://www.gofundme.com/in-memoriam-of-marcie-hatch-bradley
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at email@example.com or 530-477-4299.