William R. Bradford Jr. was publisher and editor of the Fort Mill Times from 1943 until 1979 and he was widely regarded as the town’s unofficial historian. Through extensive newspaper clippings, photos, magazines, and print artifacts the history of the town is revealed. An original print-proof press, which includes an inking table, and roller and hammer, along with Mr. Bradford’s historic L.C. Smith and Brothers typewriter,can be found in the artifact collection. Mr. Bradford was educated in the Fort Mill Schools and at Davidson College where he is a member of the Class of 1937, and served as Class Secretary for many years. He was editor and publisher of the Fort Mill Times for 36 years prior to his retirement. Under his leadership, The Times won several General Excellence awards given by the South Carolina Press Association citing the paper as the best weekly in the state, and he personally won numerous writing awards. Many of these were for his weekly “No Foolin’” column which was so popular that excerpts often appeared in The Charlotte Observer and other papers.
Bradford’s Extensive Career
- Served with distinction as York County Magistrate for Fort Mill Township from 1982 until 1987.
- Member of the Board of Trustees of the Fort Mill Schools including six years as board Chairman.
- Charter member and Director of the Fort Mill Chamber of Commerce.
- Member of the Board of Directors of the Museum of York County.
- Founder and President of the Fort Mill Township Historical Society.
- Chairman of the Fort Mill Election Commission.
- Member and President of the Fort Mill Lions Club.
- Active in the Sons of the American Revolution.
- Member of the Committee for the Elderly at Piedmont Medical Center.
- Member of the organizing board for the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.
- Voice of the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets football team, serving as play-by-play announcer at all home games from 1954 to 1968.
- Served as Fort Mill’s Scoutmaster.
In 1991, Bradford received the first Lifetime Service Award given by the Fort Mill Chamber of Commerce, and in 2005 he received the Fort Mill Citizen of the Year Award. In 2009, he was the first living member inducted into the Fort Mill Hall of Fame and in 2012 he received the York County Regional Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He authored “Out of the Past”, a popular book on the history of Fort Mill and was a frequent speaker at club meetings and area functions. A member of Unity Presbyterian Church since boyhood, he served as Deacon, Elder, Trustee, and Church Historian. For more than half a century he and his wife of 69 years, the late Helen Bradford, lived in the family’s Fort Mill home where they raised their two children, Camille and Billy. He was a member of the Centennial Class of 1937 at Davidson College.