By Leighah Beausoleil
FSU senior Bradlee “Brad” Nadeau, 25, died April 27 at his home after a multiple-week stay at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Lorretta Holloway, vice president of enrollment and student development, sent an email April 27 informing the FSU community of Bradlee’s passing.
Bradlee was born in Springfield on August 16, 1996.
He was an involved student leader at Framingham State. He was a resident assistant (RA) in Corinne Hall Towers for Academic Year 2020-21 and this year, he was president of the Nutrition Club. Bradlee was also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
Bradlee was a food and nutrition major getting ready to graduate this spring and was enrolled in his department’s 4+1 program, according to Holloway.
A memorial service was held for Bradlee on the Miles Bibb Hall patio May 5. Friends and family were given the opportunity to share their memories.
Bradlee’s father and mother, Gary and Julie Nadeau, spoke at the service.
Gary said, “Bradlee has gone through a lot of physical suffering. He had something called chronic arterial and intestinal dysrhythmia. It's a genetic disorder. He's one of about 20 people who have ever been diagnosed with it.
“We're fortunate that we've had 25 years and because his challenges are part of why he is who he is,” Gary said, “Brad was actually my greatest teacher.”
Gary emphasized how positive Bradlee had always been despite his health complications.
When Bradlee was a freshman in high school, he suffered from a stroke that blocked his main carotid artery for five hours, which took his left peripheral vision and rendered the “rear part” of his brain inactive, according to Gary.
Due to these health impairments, Bradlee was unable to get a driver’s license and could no longer pursue his initial dream career of wildlife management, Gary said. This inspired him to get more involved in health and fitness, which led him to his field of study at FSU.
“His neurologists could not believe that he had straight A's in school,” he said. “Brad did that through hard work. Brad would rewrite his notes six times.”
Gary added even in the scariest times, “Brad wouldn't give up.
“There were times when he told me - and I just need to share this so that you understood the person Bradlee was - Bradlee would tell me that he wasn't afraid to die,” he said. “And that there's days when he welcomed it because of the torture that his body was putting him through. But he said, ‘I would never give up and I'll try as hard as I can because I could never do that to the people that care about me.’”
Gary shared that when Bradlee knew he was going to pass away, he made his father promise it would not ruin his life.
“He was very concerned because he knew how to love and he knew losing someone that you love so much would be really, really hard to get over, and I promised him that I was going to send that message, so that's why I'm doing this,” Gary said.
He added, “The biggest and best legacy” Brad has left is the lessons he shared with everyone and his constant optimism.
Bradlee’s mother, Julie, shared a short message. “I want to thank you all for loving Brad. He loves you all. He loves being here. Thank you. Thank you very much.”
Bradlee’s parents gave keychains to his closest friends inscribed with “1 4 3 7,” which is in honor of the matching tattoo he shares with his sister, Ashlee Nadeau, that reads, “I love you the mostest.” Gary explained this is a common saying the family shares.
In an interview, Bradlee’s girlfriend, Savanna Hernandez, a senior health and wellness major, remembered the time she shared with him before his passing.
Hernandez said she first met Bradlee because they had three classes and an internship together and were lab partners, so there was “no way I could possibly escape that man.”
She explained because they both had “bubbly” and “positive” personalities, they automatically clicked.
“Coming to school, I was already going through a super rough time, and he really helped me through that,” she said. “I’m really glad I met him.
“He's always been such a caring and giving person wherever he went. He always helped everyone around him, and he was always there for the people he cared for, too, no matter what, even if they're going through a really tough time. He was always there.”
Hernandez noted the nicknames they had for one another that stemmed from inside jokes - he was “Buttons” and she was “Beansbeans,” which originated from a spelling error.
“He made me enjoy and really understand the purpose of living a lot better,” she said. “He was the definition of living your life to the fullest - that was Bradlee. He always did what he could for others.”
Hernandez emphasized how much her family loved him, including her grandmother, adding her grandmother did not like a lot of people but would always say, “That’s my grandson” about Bradlee.
She reminisced about the love they shared and the ways he made her feel special, adding, “He deserved the love he gave to be reciprocated” and she was happy she could be a part of that love.
Noelle Meunier, a senior management major, was one of Bradlee’s best friends.
Meunier said she first met him when she was a biology major and they shared a math class together. When she switched her major, she said she feared losing him as a friend, but instead, they became best friends and even neighbors when he moved in across the street from her.
“In April 2019, my daughter's dad was killed in a car accident,” she said. “I was utterly miserable, but I kept going to the gym with Brad. He was the best gym partner I could've ever asked for, but neither of us could understand at the time why I kept showing up even in my depressed state.
“I showed up because Brad didn't see me as a miserable person - he saw his friend,” she added. “Brad always saw the best in people and never the worst.”
Meunier said, “He believed everyone had the capacity to be happy and to live an amazing life. He helped anyone who asked because he wanted to help people succeed. It never mattered how much he had on his own plate - Brad always made time for others.
“I did everything with Brad - he was absolutely my best friend,” she said. “I was lucky to have him as my friend, and everyone that knows him would say the same.”
As an RA, Bradlee made many close friends, including Samantha Stafinski, a junior English major, Hannah Devlin, a junior child and family studies major, and Caroline Cowart, a senior fashion design and retailing major.
Each shared memories they had of Bradlee from when they were all RAs together last year.
They described how passionate Bradlee was about his studies because of his health condition and how he wanted to be able to give back to the Boston Children’s Hospital in his own way in the future.
Devlin said he would always encourage them to keep at their homework even when they wanted to quit and added they would often have “homework parties together.”
She said they would often discuss staying up all night watching movies and relaxing, but he would always want to stay up to do homework.
Cowart said Bradlee would print out all of his syllabi for the semester and hang them up on his walls in his dorm.
Devlin said, “That was the decoration of his room.”
Cowart said, “He genuinely enjoyed what he was learning and was passionate about what he was learning and found it so fun and exciting that he didn't want to do anything else but learn.”
She added that made it so much harder that she won’t see him graduate.
Devlin said, “I think there was one night in particular he was sharing with us how he knew he wasn't going to be here forever, and he knew that the time was short. We asked him, ‘If you know, no offense, why are you here getting a degree rather than out there living your life with a few years left and traveling and everything?’ and he answered, ‘I just want to be here. I want to get my degree. I want to live life as if I'm living forever.’”
Stafinski said Bradlee was a “unique” person and remembered the times he spent lying on her spare bed and eating food while they talked about their days.
She emphasized how sweet and funny he was, sharing, “He got me roses when I had my first big breakup.”
She added he would make coffee for the maintainers every morning as well. She described how he would run away from the microwave whenever he needed to heat up his coffee because of his pacemaker and how he acted as if the appliance would explode.
Devlin and Cowart agreed the aspect of their friendship with Bradlee they cherish the most is the times they spent in the RA office at the end of the day just enjoying each other’s company.
“We were a family that came together all at once in September,” Devlin said. “And then we all grew and watched each other grow and develop.”
Cowart said, “He was just genuinely such an awesome person, and our campus lost a really, really great student.”
Glenn Cochran, associate dean of students and student life, recalled that Bradlee won the “Peer of the Year” award for Corinne Hall Towers when he was an RA.
Cochran said the award is for “the person who's gone above and beyond to be supportive and help out other people. So it's all chosen by the staff to recognize one of their fellow staff members.”
Johnny Hurley, area director of Corinne Hall Towers and Larned Hall, said, “He was a really great RA to the community - a lot of the residents looked up to him.
“A lot of the staff loved him - I loved him - so it's just a tragedy that this happened.”
Ann Johnson, interim chair of the Nutrition and Health Studies Department, said, “He always had a positive attitude.”
Johnson said, “Many of his peers thought he was the smartest person in the class.”
She added, “He always had a smile on his face, always sat at the front of the class, and always had insightful questions to ask.”
Megan Mayer, a nutrition and wellness studies professor and advisor of the Food and Nutrition Club, said, “He was really just unique, hardworking, so compassionate, and [always] supporting his friends and classmates. He made everybody feel welcome.”
Mayer said she appreciated his ability to be both “studious” and fun by always lightening the mood when in class to make sure other students were having a good day.
Regarding his leadership of the Food and Nutrition Club, she said, “He really wanted to open it up to different kinds of students.
“He had a lot of ambitions for how we want the group to grow and how he wanted to see the group give back to different places on campus, which is part of why he connected with the Rams Resource Center,” she added.
“I really appreciated his drive and his thoughtfulness,” she said.
Diandra Ajemian, a senior food and nutrition major, said at the memorial service, “We didn't get to be super close, but I saw the love transform between him and Savanna.
“I just saw how much they changed each other's lives and the impact they made on each other,” Ajemian said.
She added as someone who has also lost a significant other, she feels for what Hernandez is going through and shared a poem that was on the back of her late boyfriend's prayer card.
In an interview, Ajemian said, “You would have never known he struggled. He was always happy - always a light.”
Angel Muriel, a senior fashion design and retailing major, said he first met Bradlee at Horace Mann Hall when he came to FSU.
Muriel said, “He was just a very light-spirited individual, and that's how I choose to remember him - just bright and loving and caring - as he was.”
According to his obituary on the St. Pierre-Phaneuf Aldenville Funeral Chapels’ website, his family will hold a Celebration of Life Service on Saturday, May 14, 2022 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pioneer Valley Chapter 8 Club Hall, 104 West State Street, Granby, Massachusetts 01033.
“His burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, his family requests that memorial donations be made in his memory to the Boston Children’s Hospital Trust, 401 Park Drive, Suite 602, Boston, MA 02215. For more details and to leave his family condolence messages, please visit: www.stpierrephaneuf.com,” according to the obituary.
For FSU students seeking support, the Counseling Center is available for appointments into the summer. The center can be reached via phone at 508-626-4640 and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.