Kate Bradley

Emma Ruth “Kate” Hobbs Bradley was born 13 October 1932 in Petros, Tenn., a small Appalachian coalfield community in the Cumberland Mountains. Kate was the sixth of seven surviving children in her family. Her father was a coalminer. Kate married Jacob “J.W.” Bradley in 1951. They were married for 67 years, until Kate’s death on 29 July 2019. Together they raised three children: Connie, Chip, and Faith.

Kate led many local efforts to make her community a better, safer, and healthier place to live. J.W. and Kate co-founded Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM) in response to the strip mining that was devastating the area around their home. Around this same time, Kate Bradley was working to secure land for what would become the Petros Health Clinic. The health clinic Kate helped open remained in Petros for many years. SOCM remains in effect, renamed Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment.


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Lobbying for the Rural Health Clinic Act

Kate Bradley recalls lobbying for Medicare’s funding of Nurse Practitioners (NPs), a motion that later became known as the Rural Health Clinic Act. Others involved in the effort included Irwin Venick, Wanda Lang, Bill Corr, and Byrd Duncan. Follow this… Continued

The Bradleys move to Wartburg, Tenn.

Caryl Carpenter describes Kate Bradley’s fierce commitment to making Petros a better place, naming several other community initiatives beyond the clinic. Kate, however, shares that she feels they failed and explains their decision to leave for Wartburg, Tenn. in 1993.… Continued

More on local opposition to the Petros Clinic

Kate Bradley expands on the issues she explains are often characteristic of small, rural communities and how such things as ignorance and jealousy impeded their efforts to build a community clinic in Petros, Tenn. She describes a few specific examples… Continued

On the Bradley’s motivation to organize a community clinic in Petros, Tenn.

Kate Bradley frames the initiative to organize a local health council and community clinic as a direct response to the Petros health fair’s preliminary identification of needs. She details early fundraising efforts, including Pat Kalmans’ key role in securing grant… Continued

Kate Bradley on a problematic provider’s attempt to take over the clinic in Petros

Kate Bradley describes the internal conflict that arose with the doctor, Chester Caster, who came to Petros after Rick Davidson. He rallied for clinic opposition among community members and made irate threats against her in what was a futile (albeit… Continued

On the Petros Health Council’s response to altercation with Dr. Chester Caster

Kate Bradley discusses the local Petros Health Council’s response to an altercation with the clinic’s doctor, Chester Caster. He tirelessly incited clinic opposition among community members and rallied to take over, but Kate’s determination to protect the clinic was stalwart.… Continued

On the Petros Clinic’s connection to Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary

Kate Bradley briefly discusses the Petros Clinic’s connection to Brushy Mountain Prison and recalls her memory of James Earl Ray’s escape. Follow this link for access to the full-length interview. Recorded October 2017 in Wartburg, Tenn. Continued

“We had to work with one hand and fight with the other”

Kate Bradley narrates the process by which Mountain Peoples Health Council (MPHC) acquired land to build the Petros Clinic. She describes the stiff political atmosphere in Nashville, where she went to plead her case before a judge, and explains why… Continued

On the joy and impact of living with local families in East Tennessee

Rosie Hammond shares the highlight of her SHC experience: living with and getting to know local families. She names several from her time in Briceville, White Oak, Petros, Stoney Fork, and Rose Creek, Tenn., including (but not limited to) the… Continued

Sue Love Student Health Coalition Meeting Photographs, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Sue C. Love participated in the Rural Student Health Coalition in the early 1970s as a medical worker and attended medical school at Vanderbilt University. At the same time, her future husband Cliff Love served as a community worker. Included… Continued

Bob Hartmann on his follow-up visits with the Bradleys in Petros, Tenn.

Bob Hartmann discusses the informal nature of community organizing characteristic of the Coalition’s work, both prior to and following summer health fairs. He shares the story of his and others’ regular visits back to communities during the academic year, highlighting… Continued

Interview with Kate Bradley and J.W. Bradley by Evangeline Mee, 29 May 2012, Southern Oral History Program, UNC Chapel Hill

Topics discussed in this interview with Kate Bradley and J.W. Bradley include: birth in Petros, Tenn.; life history overview; coal mining father; history of Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM); women’s role in SOCM; relationship of Vanderbilt University medical students; Student… Continued

Kate Bradley’s post-clinic organizing work at a regional prison

Kate Bradley describes her work as the Volunteer Coordinator at a regional prison, including their development of a continuing education program. Follow this link for access to the full-length interview. Recorded October 2017 in Wartburg, Tenn. Continued

“Community knows best”

Margaret Ecker facilitates a discussion among Irwin Venick, Bob Hartmann, and Joe Little about the philosophies and guiding principles of the SHC. All agree a central facet of the Coalition’s approach was a collective understanding of the local community’s role… Continued

Lewis Lefkowitz on the Student Health Coalition’s key accomplishments

Lewis Lefkowitz recalls what facilitated the Student Health Coalition’s (SHC’s) success. He discusses the organization’s framework of community mobilization and agency, and furthermore highlights the leadership legacy of Kate and J.W. Bradley. Recorded on December 1, 2015.   Full footage… Continued

“I will always be grateful for the gifts that the work and the people of those summers gave to me.”

[Story contributed by Angela Carroll Healy, M.D.] Dear All, Seeing the videos and reading the memories of other Coalitioners has made me want to share what working with the Student Health Coalition (SHC) meant to me. I was a Brooklyn… Continued

Formation of Mountain Peoples Health Council (MPHC)

Kate and J.W. Bradley ponder who first suggested Petros, Stoney Fork, and Norma band together to form the Mountain Peoples Health Council (MPHC), why, and how it was made possible–in large part thanks to Rick Davidson’s role as the first… Continued

“Radical Hearts” and their dress code

Margaret Ecker reminisces with the Appalachian Student Health Coalition at a gathering in 2013.   Her story about the students’ dress code was influenced by the clip below of Kate and J.W. Bradley, where they discuss what their community said about the  students… Continued

Overcoming adversity from Morgan County

Kate and J.W. Bradley discuss the Morgan County Health Council, from its formation around the same time as the Coalition’s health fair in Petros, Tenn. to the challenges Morgan County officials created for the clinic. These hurdles were in no… Continued

Key players in the health fair and early days of the clinic in Petros, Tenn.

Caryl Carpenter, Rick Davidson, and Irwin Venick meet with Kate and J.W. Bradley to discuss the Petros health fair and community clinic. They list several of the early players involved with both, including Wanda and Gary Lang, Bob Hartmann, John… Continued

On the SHC’s provision of hope as fuel for systemic change to rural healthcare

Kate and J.W. Bradley share sweet reflections of the friendships made during the Student Health Coalition’s (SHC’s) community organizing efforts in rural Tennessee, and explain that the organization’s leader, Bill Dow, gave them hope to change what they’d always been… Continued

On closing the Petros Clinic

Kate and J.W. Bradley share about their decision to close the Petros Clinic amidst ongoing, relentless threats from Dr. Chester Caster and the community. Follow this link for access to the full-length interview. Recorded October 2017 in Wartburg, Tenn. Continued

Reflections on the SHC’s sense of fashion

Kate Bradley and Marie Cirillo share some laughs thinking back to the effort Student Health Coalition (SHC) participants put toward demonstrating modesty and respect so as to cultivate relationships with community members. But sporting bowl cuts, long skirts, and duct-taped… Continued

“Later then, he sent me a check for $10,000”

An interview with Kate Bradley about how she received the money to build a health clinic in Petros, Tenn. Continued

The Legacy of the Petros (Tenn.) Health Clinic

In the 1970s, Petros was a small community of 1400 on the eastern border of Morgan County.  Unemployment in the county was high, in part because there were only 3 manufacturing firms that did not provide enough jobs to replace… Continued

MOUNTAIN PEOPLE’S THEN AND NOW

A comprehensive history (1974-2023) of a vibrant community-owned and community-operated clinic network in East Tennessee composed by Caryl Carpenter 2024   I came to East Tennessee in December of 1975. The Board of Directors of Mountain People’s Health Councils (MPHC)… Continued

J.W. and Kate Bradley Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Records, correspondence, and printed material related to the involvement of J. W. Bradley with Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM), an organization founded to support community issues arising from the increase in strip mining in Eastern Tennessee during the 1970s and… Continued

Perry Steele on the summer of 1972

[Story contributed by Perry Steele, 15 May 2017]  I was finishing my sophomore year at Vanderbilt. Nixon hadn’t drafted me. For some reason Professor Scott suggested I could be a community organizer. Having no other plans for the summer, I… Continued

Interview with Kate Bradley and J.W. Bradley by Evangeline Mee, 11 August 2012, Southern Oral History Program, UNC Chapel Hill

This interview with J.W. Bradley and Kate Bradley is a follow up to interview U-0803. J.W. Bradley was born in Petros, Tenn., a coalfield community in the Cumberlands. He served as deputy sheriff in Petros. He was one of the… Continued