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Profile in Excellence: Community Compassion

Editor’s Note: Oklahoma Baptist University alumnus Jeanette Bradshaw, a 1954 graduate, is a 2006 recipient of the OBU Alumni Association’s Profile In Excellence Award. The award is given to a former student who has “demonstrated recognizable accomplishment in his or her profession, business, avocation, or life service in such a way as to bring pride and honor to the University.” Each year, Profile In Excellence recipients are featured in OBU Magazine.

Jeanette Foster Bradshaw has never been partial to the big city. She grew up in Shawnee and favored the small town appeal.

“I’ve always liked the smaller community,” she said.

And "community" is a common word in the vocabulary of Bradshaw, who completed a bachelor's degree in English from OBU in 1954.

An active resident of Stillwater for almost 40 years, Jeanette says community involvement is important to her well-being.

“If my community does not do well, I don’t do well,” she said. “This is a part of my life, and I’ve always been one to make an emphasis on community support.”

Jeanette has been instrumental in the United Way’s Day of Caring. She also is a board member for the local Salvation Army, participated with the Serendipity Book Club and Hideaway Investment Club and is a member of the American Business Women’s Association.

Supporting her community was influential in her early years in Shawnee with her family. Her father, David Foster, came to OBU as a ministerial student, graduating in 1930. A bivocational minister, he also taught in public schools and was a hospital administrator.

His desire to be involved in local programs was passed on to Jeanette, who also followed her father’s educational path.

“I didn’t perceive I had a choice,” she said, regarding her college decision. “He loved OBU, and I shared the same feelings. I knew at an early age it was where I would go to school.”

Starting her freshman year, Jeanette also was employed at OBU. She worked in Paul Nance’s office when he served as OBU’s business manager.

“I worked the year round,” she said. “I even worked during Christmas break. My life was pretty much centered on campus.” It was an adjustment at first. One OBU requirement she had to deal with was rooming with girls who were not from the same hometown. Jeanette also adjusted to the rule that students were not permitted to have cars, but she found a way around that.

“A friend of my mother lived in walking distance to the campus,” she said. “I had a 1943 Chevy business coupe, and she allowed me to park it at her house.”

A code system was developed with her friends and family to communicate about the car. If someone needed her car when she was working, Jeanette was told that “Myrtle” went to town.

Myrtle became pretty popular in her social circles. Eventually, Nance found out about the car’s moniker, which was a surprise to Jeanette.

“He came up to me one day and asked, ‘So how’s Myrtle?’” she recalled with a laugh. “I was so shocked to find out he knew! Nothing became of it, but I could not believe he knew about Myrtle.”

Finding out about Myrtle could be interpreted as a detriment to living in a small community. Word does travel fast. However, the speedy news factor did not hinder Jeanette’s OBU experience. “All my memories of OBU are pleasant,” she said. “All of my professors were great and had my best interests at heart.”

Jeanette enjoyed her speech classes and performing in plays. She has fond memories of Opal Craig and Rhetta May Dorland, taking Dr. Robert Laessig’s German class and recalling the friendliness of “Uncle Jimmy,” James Owens, who taught modern languages.

Jeanette did graduate work at both the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University after graduating from OBU. She met her husband, Gerald, while at OSU.

After they were married, she joined her husband’s family business of insurance and financial services. For 38 years, she has worked with Bradshaw Agency Inc., and currently as vice president of operations. She has been described as “the glue that holds the organization together.”

Along with being an adhesive element for business and community, Jeanette also has been faithful in her church. As a charter member of Eagle Heights Baptist Church, she is instrumental in the growth of the young ministry.

Click the following link to view a full list of previous Profile in Excellence recipients.