Fr. Tom Bradtke passed away Saturday, June 2nd at Heritage Park Care Center at the age of 81. Thomas Anthony Bradtke was born July 8, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois to Felix and Frances Bradtke. He grew up in the Chicago area with his brothers Phil and Martin, attending Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. He was ordained on April 28, 1962 and ministered in parishes in the Chicago area prior to moving to Colorado. He came to Colorado on a temporary leave of absence after becoming ill following a trip to Mexico and he never returned to work in Chicago. In 1970 he moved to Basalt, Colorado and began his ministry in the Archdiocese of Denver. He was Pastor of St. Vincent Parish and St. Mary of the Crown Parish in Carbondale and established the missions in Snowmass Village and Marble, Colorado while at this assignment. He left the valley to serve at Christ the King Parish in Evergreen in 1977. Following this he moved to Grand Lake, Colorado to serve as Pastor at St. Anne Parish and St. Peter’s Parish in Kremmling, with missions in Granby, Winter Park and Walden. He drove hundreds of miles each week, traveling to each of the mission parishes for Mass and visits with the parishioners. In 1981 he returned to the Roaring Fork Valley as Pastor of St. Mary Parish in Aspen. He and his dear friend Msgr. Tom Dentici, who was Associate Pastor at St Mary’s during Fr. Bradtke’s first year, established a wide circle of friends and parishioners through their ministry in Aspen. In 1991 he left Aspen for a sabbatical at the North American College in Rome, Italy and returned to the valley via a six month journey around the world, visiting friends in Europe, India, Southeast Asia and Hawaii while on his return to the U.S. He served as Pastor of St. Stephen Parish and School in Glenwood Springs from 1992 to 1996, and in 1999 returned to serve as Pastor of St. Vincent and St. Mary of the Crown Parishes until his retirement in 2005. He continued to assist with pastoral duties at all the parishes in the Roaring Fork Valley during his retirement.
Fr. Tom had a special place in his heart for those who were in need of assistance, whether it was a friend or parish member, and always found a place in the parish hall to put up a homeless individual who needed a warm and dry place to sleep. In 2001 Tom’s Door, an organization which sells handmade greeting cards with proceeds to benefit those in need from Rifle to Aspen, was created in honor of the three Fr. Tom’s living at St. Mary of the Crown Rectory — Fr. Tom Bradtke, Fr. Tom McCormick and Msgr. Tom Dentici. A lasting legacy of Fr. Bradkte’s nearly 50 years in the Roaring Fork Valley has been his care for those most in need.
Fr. Tom loved outdoor activities and especially loved to be on the water, whether on Lake Michigan in Chicago, rafting in Colorado and Utah, or houseboating trips on Lake Powell with fellow priests, parish ministry volunteers, friends, and parishioners. He loved to ski and could often be seen skinning up Tiehack on weekday afternoons in the winter. He hiked many of the trails in the mountains surrounding the Roaring Fork Valley with friends and introduced many visiting priests from all over the U.S. to the outdoor activities he so enjoyed. He loved to gather people for a meal or activity and created numerous opportunities for singles, married couples and parishioners to gather and grow in the knowledge of their Catholic faith and Christ’s love for all.
Fr. Bradtke was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers. He is survived by his sister-in-law, Cathy Bradtke of Chicago, his nephews Michael Bradtke of Denver and John Bradtke of Orem, Utah, his niece Christine of Chicago, and their families, and hundreds of people who knew him as their friend. A Rosary Vigil will be held at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Glenwood Springs on Wednesday June 6, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. Funeral Mass will begin following the Rosary Vigil at 11:00 am. Interment will follow at White Hill Cemetery in Carbondale, CO. Donations in Fr. Bradtke’s memory may be sent to Tom’s Door, P. O. Box 4585, Basalt, CO 81621.