$250K gift will likely go to Wisconsin zoo’s cougars, bobcats

By ROD STETZER rod.stetzer@lee.net
Last modified: Thursday, December 28, 2006 1:13 PM CST

The late Joseph and Nilah Bradford have left a belated Christmas present for Irvine Park, and it’s a doozy.

The Bradford Family Trust on Tuesday gave the city’s Irvine Park Donation Fund a $250,000 contribution.

If the Bradford name sounds familiar, it’s because the trust donated $183,000 to the Chippewa County Historical Society in November 2005.

Bill Faherty, the city’s director of Parks and Recreation, said the $250,000 is the largest lump sum donation for Chippewa Falls parks that he can recall.

Faherty wouldn’t have too much trouble thinking of ways to spend the money.

“I could spend it on the cougar exhibit,” he said, pointing to one option.

Instead, he’ll leave the decision with the city’s Park Board. Faherty said it may be better to invest the money though the Community Foundation of Chippewa County.

Faherty said it’s important for the public to know the parks department is wisely using donations.

Already private donations have paid for a bear exhibit. An exhibit for the park’s cougars is being built and one for its bobcats is planned.

Faherty said there may be enough money to finish building the cougar exhibit without having to use the Bradford donation.

It’s possible the donation could be used as a matching fund to build the bobcat exhibit, Faherty said.

The former town of Eagle Point couple had strong ties to the Chippewa Valley.

Nilah Nabor Bradford was born in Chippewa Falls in December 1935.

Joseph Bradford’s great-great-grandmother’s brother was Captain John E. Perkins, commander of the famed Eagle Regiment in the Civil War. The regiment fought along its famous mascot, the eagle Old Abe, that came from Jim Falls.

The couple donated a feather from the famed eagle along with some possessions of Captain Perkins to the county’s history center at 123 Allen St. in Chippewa Falls.

Joseph Bradford died in 1999 and Nilah Bradford died three years later in Mesa, Ariz.

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