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Honoring Water Skiing Pioneer Charles "Chuck" Bradford of Michigan

We are constantly reminded of how the love of water skiing runs deep in our country. There are millions of memories and incredible stories of life on the water. We wanted to share another tale from the early days of organized water skiing, in this, the 100th year of water skiing.

Chuck Bradford (pictured bottom right) passed away in August and USA-WWF Trustee and longtime supporter Mary Pelto made a $10,000 donation to the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation in honor of Chuck's amazing contribution to water skiing on a local level in Macatawa Bay, Michigan.

Here is Chuck's story as written so beautifully by our Mary Pelto:

Dear Friends in Water Skiing,

We have lost so many wonderful water skiers recently. Some are known to all, but one was known to the Macatawa Bay Water Skiers.

Chuck Bradford (Charles), died after a long battle with lung cancer in late August. He is survived by his wife Sally and three children, Barbara, Robert, and Cindy plus many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Chuck grew up spending summers at Macatawa, Michigan. It is a resort haven on Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa. Macatawa was known for water skiing starting in 1941. The 1941, 1946, and 1947 National Water Ski (AWSA) Tournaments were held at Macatawa's "T-Dock, " hosted by the Sligh Ski School. The ski school was active until 1955 when the original members had all grown up and were working and raising children. Chuck Bradford kept the ski school going two more years using his own boat. The "profit" for the final year was $3.85!

Chuck Bradford loved skiing... on water and snow. He also enjoyed scuba diving on shipwrecks and piloting gliders. He was not interested in competition, but supported and encouraged those who were. He did compete in the 1955 AWSA Nationals but was more interested in driving the boat for me in the tricks competition. Yes, you could choose your own boat driver then!

Chuck remained interested in water skiing for many years introducing his sister, Linda, to the sport and getting her ready for ski shows which the Macatawa Bay Water Skiers put on for patriotic occasions and to entertain the wounded veterans of World War II.

I am making a donation in his honor to the USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Foundation to be used in the general fund for operating expenses.

Think of Chuck Bradford as a truly dedicated person who loved water skiing and encouraged by his actions so many young people."

Sincerely, Mary Pelto

Thank you Mary for your support! Join Mary on March 4-5, 2022 as we celebrate the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Tickets must be purchased by February 11th! Go to our website for more information! or email


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