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D: 2019-12-04
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D: 2019-11-27
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D: 2019-11-27
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10610 Manchester Road
Kirkwood, MO 63122-1308
Phone: 314-965-7680

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Bernard Bridgewater
In Memory of
Bernard Adolphus "Dolph"
Bridgewater Jr.
1934 - 2019
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Obituary for Bernard Adolphus "Dolph" Bridgewater Jr.

Bernard Adolphus "Dolph"  Bridgewater Jr.
BRIDGEWATER, BERNARD ADOLPHUS JR, “Dolph” (March 13th, 1934 – October 31st, 2019) Dolph Bridgewater, age 85, passed away peacefully on October 31st, 2019, surrounded by those he loved most.

Dolph was a man of great breadth and intimate depth. His rare combination of hard work, quick intellect, and deep integrity led him from the Oklahoma oil fields to the White House to the Boardroom. As a young man, he was a fierce competitor in the boxing ring and on the football field as well as on the golf course and later in life, at the bridge table. Yet, music made his heart sing. From barbershop quartets to country music, Dolph possessed perfect pitch and was quick to join in with a harmony. As the child of two newspaper editors, he was a lover of words and was always ready with a witty turn of phrase or pun. He was an avid reader, editor, and a master at the Daily Jumble. However, writing poetry for those he loved was his greatest joy and gift, commemorating anniversaries, birthdays, and even the family pets through heartwarming, clever couplets.

Dolph was born on March 13, 1934, to his adoring parents, Mary Burton Bridgewater and BA “Bridge” Bridgewater, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dolph graduated from Central High School in Tulsa in 1951 and received his Bachelor’s Degree in English from Westminster College in Fulton, MO, in 1955. Dolph immediately continued his education at the University of Oklahoma where he received his law degree and met the love of his life, Barbara Paton. They graduated in 1958 and married two years later.

The couple spent their first year together in Europe, where Dolph served as the legal ­officer at the US Naval Station in Rota, Spain. They then moved to Washington, D.C., where Dolph joined the staff of the Navy Judge ­Advocate General (JAG) in the Pentagon; then to Dolph's hometown of Tulsa, Okla., for a brief stint as prosecuting attorney; and then to ­Boston, where Dolph earned an MBA at Harvard Business School, graduating at the top of his class as a George F. Baker Scholar. After graduating from Harvard, he was hired by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company in Chicago and rose quickly, becoming a Principal in 1968 and Director in 1972. Often described as a high point in his career, he took a leave of absence from McKinsey in 1973 to serve as Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs with the Office of Management and Budget under President Richard Nixon. His work was primarily in defense and intelligence, taking him to Israel during the “Yom Kippur” war in the fall of 1974 and later to southeast Asia and India prior to the collapse of the government in South Vietnam. He then served five years as Executive Vice President and Director of Baxter Travenol Laboratories, a pharmaceutical and medical supplies manufacturer. Barbara and Dolph’s final move was to St. Louis in 1979 when Dolph was named President of Brown Shoe Company. He became Chief Executive Officer in 1982 and retired as Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Brown Shoe in 1999. In addition to his executive leadership, Dolph served as Director of twelve New York Stock Exchange companies including FMC Corp, McDonnell Douglas Corp, Celanese Corp, Enserch Corp, and Mitretek Systems, Inc, amongst others.

Education paved the way for Dolph’s success, and hard work paid for it. Through Dolph’s nine years of education, he worked as a dishwasher, golf course attendant, and a campus correspondent to pay his way through school. Because of this, he believed strongly in helping with the process of educating capable and talented young people and provided generous support for scholarships at Westminster College in his mother’s name and at Washington University, as well as serving as a visiting professor in the business schools at both Washington University and the University of Chicago. He served for 23 years as a member of the Board of Trustees of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and continued as an emeritus member of that Board. He also served for 6 years as a member of the Board of Visitors of Harvard Business School and the Fuqua Business School at Duke University. After his retirement from Brown, he served ten years as senior consultant in Corporate Governance for TIAA-CREF in New York.

Most importantly, though, Dolph was a devoted family man. His parents, wife, three daughters, their husbands, and his ten grandchildren were the loves of his life and his greatest source of pride, joy, and inspiration. A man of both grit and grace, Dolph lived his life with a spirit of kindness, patience, gratitude, humility, and always with a sense of wit and adventure. While he was deeply committed to his responsibilities, he always put others first. He is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Barbara, as well as his treasured daughters: Barrie, Beth, and Bonnie; devoted sons-in-law: Nick Somers, Andy Condie, and Tim Stewart; and his 10 cherished grandchildren: Payton, Kiki and Will Somers; Caitlin, Ellie, Bridget and Joe Condie; and Charlie, Jack and Henry Stewart. Dolph took care of his loved ones until his final hours and was the consummate gentleman in both life and in death.

A Memorial Service will be held in St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday, December 14th, 3:00 pm, at Graham Chapel on the campus of Washington University, with a Celebration of Life to follow.
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