Tanya McCreery Bradford

1979 - 2009

Tanya Bradford, pianist, organist, harpist, and percussionist, was a sought-after accompanist praised for her work by choir directors at two colleges and two academies in the Seventh-day Adventist school system. Although her life was tragically short, she was a quiet and thoughtful person who radiated a warmth and love that captured the hearts of her teachers, colleagues, students, and, most importantly, her family.

Tanya was born in Hazelton, British Columbia, Canada, and spent her childhood in Port Hardy. She was one of three children and the only daughter of David and Elaine Smith McCreery, both of whom are amateur musicians in a larger family of musically talented persons. The McCreery home was filled with sounds of casual music making and the playing of recordings, and their attendance at small churches provided numerous opportunities for Tanya to play piano and sing solos or in small groups.

She started piano at an early age, being taught within Royal Conservatory of Toronto guidelines by Marlene DiMarco. After completing her freshman and sophomore years at Avalon Adventist Junior Academy in Port Hardy, she attended Upper Columbia Academy, where she continued piano study under Synnove Anderson and accompanied the choir and students in the voice studio of Carmen Swigert. She also played French horn in the academy band under Jerry Lange.

Following graduation from UCA in 1997, Tanya attended Southern Adventist University, where she decided to major in music during her freshman year. Only seventeen years old at the time of her enrollment, she became the sole accompanist for the SAU choir under the direction of Marvin Robertson and later James Hanson. For the next three years she studied piano with J. Bruce Ashton and Elaine Jansen and organ with Judy Glass.

She also played percussion in both the band and orchestra under the leadership of Brandon Beck and Orlo Gilbert, respectively. During this time, Tanya served for a year as a student missionary in Taiwan, where she taught classroom music and directed a tone chimes ensemble.

While at SAU, she became acquainted with Wesley (Wes) Bradford, also a music major. When he accepted a music position at Auburn Adventist Academy for the 2001-2002 school year, she transferred to Walla Walla College, now University, where she could continue work on her degree. During the first quarter of that school year she studied piano with Leonard and Debra Richter (now Bakland) and was accompanist for the choir under the direction of Cyril Myers. At the end of that quarter, she transferred to Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.

Tanya married Wesley in January 2002 and graduated from PLU the following winter. She also pursued and completed a degree (ARCT II) in piano by independent study from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto.

For the next six years she assisted in music at AAA, teaching piano, occasionally accompanying the choir under the direction of John Neumann, helping her husband with the band, and playing harp for special events. She also implemented the Royal American Conservatory Examinations (RACE) program in piano and studied harp with Diana Heinrichs.

During their time at AAA, the Bradfords had three sons, Benjamin, Daniel, and Timothy. In 2008, Wes accepted an invitation from Avalon Adventist Junior Academy in Canada to serve as principal, direct the band, and teach classroom guitar. In December of that year Tanya was diagnosed with cancer at an advanced stage and Wesley resigned in January so that he could accompany her as they pursued different treatments. Her parents, Robert and Elaine Daffurn, provided considerable support and helped with the children.

In spite of heroic efforts to restore her health, she succumbed to the disease on December 4, 2009, at age thirty. Even in the closing days of her life, she continued to use music to praise God. Tanya performed her final sacred piano recital on November 10, only days before her passing.


Source: Information provided by Elaine Daffurn, mother, and Wesley Bradford, September 2011 and February 2012; Karrlayn Gruesbeck Beck, January 2012.