When Bradford Auto Body owner Mickey Kempf rolls down Main Street as the grand marshal of the 2019 Western Welcome Week Grand Parade on Aug. 17, he’ll be following in a family tradition.
Kempf’s parents, Mary Bradford and stepfather “Brad” Bradford, were the parade’s marshals in 1989, riding beside then-Gov. Roy Romer.
Fitting, as this year’s parade theme is “The Tradition Continues.”
Kempf and his parents represent some of Littleton’s most dedicated public servants, with a tradition of charitable giving and good works that stretches back decades.
“You don’t do it to get a pat on the back,” Kempf said. “You do it because your community needs your help.”
Walk into most auto body shops and you might see a few certificates hanging on the wall. But walk into Bradford Auto Body on Main Street in downtown Littleton, and the certificates get a bit lost amid dozens of awards, citations and plaques from about every charity or service group in the area.
The Humane Society. Meals on Wheels. The American Cancer Society. The Littleton Rotary. Littleton Police. The YMCA. Too many more to name, all thanking Kempf or the Bradfords.
Brad Bradford founded the shop in 1949, and Kempf, 69, took over the shop from his parents in 1980. While the shop has always stayed busy getting dents and dings out of cars, the family has always made time to give back.
“It makes you feel like what you do matters,” Kempf said. “It’s about protecting your fellow human beings.”
Some of Kempf’s work carries a more evocative message: A few years back, he and Bob’s Towing exhibited a wrecked car at Arapahoe Community College as part of a driver education event, meant to demonstrate the potential consequences of distracted driving.
The purpose, Kempf said, was to remind drivers young and old to “Hang up and drive. We need you, and your phone call can wait.”
Kempf, a father of three and grandfather and great-grandfather to many, said he’s humbled and honored to be the parade’s Grand Marshal, and proud to be part of Littleton tradition.
“Anything my family can do to for our community,” Kempf said, “we’ll be there.”
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