Obituary of Maja G. Bradley
Maja Brigitte Gudrun Nolte Bradley
May 3, 1927 - December 28, 2020
By Lizette Oswald
I’ll start this note by apologizing to anyone who had spoken to Maja and mispronounced her
name differently than it sounded in German - MAYA. I know the hell of the things you probably
heard from Maya about this mispronunciation!
Born in Dresden, Germany, Maja grew up during tumultuous and uncertain times during the
occupation of the Third Reich. She was born to Richard Nolte, an MD, and Margarete Nolte,
an RN. She is predeceased by her sisters Christel, Vilma and Trudel, and her brother Ghunter.
Maja became a citizen of the United States in 1959, and worked at BASF, as an Executive
Assistant until her retirement.
Maja was married to Edward Bradley (deceased) and had a stepson Edward Bradley, who is
married to Mary, and they have three children Colleen, Kim and Keith. Maja had many
step-great-grandchildren who she loved very much.
Maja has many nieces and nephews still living in Germany, where she enthusiastically visited
once per year until recently. She was very close to her family, which includes Dr. Gunther
Augustin, Dr’s. Dietmar Augustin and Gaby Fuhrmann, Peter and Erika Kahle, and her niece
Margit Firtzsche. Maja was also especially close to her beloved nephew Dr. Hartmut and his
wife Dr. Barbara Augustine with whom she would speak to regularly each week.
Maja was a woman of many loves and a million friends! But, she loved her “grandson” Willy
more than anything and/or anybody on earth and took extreme pride in him. “He is the love of
my life, the reason I smile, and the reason I am here,” she would say.
Besides her extreme love for Willy, she loved Moose Tracks ice cream, toasted marshmallows,
fast cars, airplanes and booze. Oh!! Did I say traveling? Airline companies have lost a loyal
customer. Maja traveled to over 50 countries and kept repeating, “money spent on traveling is
money well spent - just go for it!” Most of Maja’s friends were younger than her; however, she
was a contemporary and said her friends would keep her young and were her partners in
crime! Maja traveled with them to beautiful and exotic places.
Maja was an adventurous woman who once decided to return to Italy and booked herself on an
excursion, even though none of her friends were available at the time. While on the airplane,
she met two women, a mother and daughter, who she then planned her next vacation with.
There was a suspicion that even with two broken hips, Maja was still preparing for another
safari in Africa. No doubt, she would have, if she could have!
Maja was a very vocal and outspoken person and was not afraid of the world, people, or
animals. Many times she had said, “I believe I would have gotten into trouble if I would have
stayed in Germany. I had to leave.” The only two things that would scare Maja, or should we
say - piss her off - was bad food and bad customer service - the two main reasons for her
becoming a bad ass complainer. Her philosophy was, “Food does not have to have a fancy
name to be good. It just needs to taste good.” She despised spinach, broccoli, Rock & Roll
music and people who were better complainers than her. She would always encourage
younger people to become a complainer at young age. “The longer you complain, the longer
you live. The “Big Guy" upstairs - with the corner office - (God, we are guessing) does not
want any complainers up there."
Her favorite restaurant in town was Casa Bella of Denville, and her favorite food there was an
apricot sour (oops!! Did I say favorite food?). Oh no! That was only one of her favorite drinks.
I believe I said food because one night, while dinning at Casa Bella, she spilled her drink into
her dinner plate. She then took a straw and sucked the drink off her plate, so that the drink
would not go to waste. That was Maja!
Maja was an avid admirer of fast cars and up until a few months ago she was still talking about
getting a new yellow Mustang, like the one she owned many years ago. She was a very fast
driver who loved road trips, and had many times repeated that, “it’s not me stepping on gas,
the car just goes by itself.” Her favorite place to speed was the Autobahn, in Germany. Up
there, she was the one who would tailgate a car if they were driving less than 90 miles per hour
- and that’s a fact!!! In the United States, Maja’s favorite place to speed was route 80.
So many times, over a BBQ while talking about safe driving around the neighborhood, she
would argue defensively, “I will not slowdown around the corners because I don't want to wear
out the brakes.” In addition, an elderly driver would have no chance if they would happen to
drive too slowly in front of her. Maja would yell, “those are the ones who make the rest of us
look bad!” At the age of 92, after two broken hips, she finally decided to sell her car, but she
would NOT give up her driver’s license (of course).
At the age of 93, Maja’s mind was completely intact. She loved and enjoyed classical music
and knew the names of every single composer, their songs and their biographies. When in
Germany, she loved to attend the concerts in Vienna, Austria.
Maja was an enthusiastic member of the German Club of Dover, where for many years, she
was a member of the choir. The German Club was her favorite place to go to play cards, and
eat and drink with her German friends. In fact, it was the first place I took her after her first hip
surgery. It was like, one shot, two shots, a glass of wine, and life was good all over again. Hip
pain gone. She was also very good at trying a new drink and even naming it, as she did at her
friends Susan and Tim’s wedding, where she named a drink Blue Fairy, due to a liquor called
Hpnotiq, which was a little sweet with a touch of grapefruit.
Maja loved maps and was a geography enthusiast who worried a lot about global warming and
natural issues related to earth. Once, (before cell phones and Siri) she and I got lost in
Annapolis, MD. She asked me to stop the car. She looked at the sun and its location, thought
for a moment and figured it out! In a couple seconds we were on our way back to the hotel.
She was amazing!
Although Maja never admitted how good she was with mathematics, the use of a tape measure
for Maja was just a way to confirm the numbers she already knew. And, for us, the use of a
calculator was never necessary. Until not too long ago, she was able to divide any large
number by a two-digit number all in her head. But she was always very humble and modest
and never considered herself an intelligent woman.
Maja was passionate about airplanes and would read any book about them. She would know
what kind plane was flying above her, just by listening to the sound of it. Not only that, she
immediately would identify the type of engine that plane would have. But she was most
passionate about war planes and she loved going to air shows.
Not only was Maja a wise woman, she was also a jokester. After she turned age 80, she would
take advantage of her beautiful shiny grey hair. She never liked to wait in line for anything, and
she would play up her age and cut the line so the younger ones did not get there first. For her,
it was just one advantage of been old, “you play crazy and get what you want,” she would say.
Kids really loved Maja and we can’t remember how many times Willy’s friends interviewed her
for their history homework, or would just sit and listen and talk with her during a family BBQ.
She would entertain them with her stories and they would enjoy her conversation, always asking
questions. She would talk about the abduction of her father by the Russians while at home,
the day she saw Adolf Hitler in a parade, the death of her brother while in a submarine, the
daily fight to survive the aftermath of the war, and so much more!
“Earth is not done,” she used to say, “A lot more is going to happen and I am worried about
the young generation.” She loved children and would give her own life to save a child’s life.
“Science is doing too much to prolong the life of a human being like me, but cannot figure out
a way to keep kids from getting bad diseases." This was very troubling to Maja. She did not
recognize herself as part of any formal religion. However, she believed each persons' religion is
defined by how you treat people, what you contribute to this world, and showing your kindness
to others. She was always very generous donating to the local authorities serving our
After the age of 90 Maja survived many little car accidents that included crushing mailboxes,
hitting and rearranging landscaping boulders etc., and she also survived a number of falls and
In her FIRST FALL, she ended up with a broken hip and a rod placed in her leg. Then came a
SECOND FALL that loosened the screw inserted in her leg, and a second surgery to replace it.
During this fall, she fell into me and threw me into the wall - I have my suspicions that Maja did
that on purpose because I did not want to take her to the German October Fest!
Then came a THIRD FALL and a second broken hip. At this point, Maja was becoming a
regular at the emergency room and the orthopedic center at Morristown hospital. Yet, another
rod was inserted, this time to the right leg. She loved her orthopedic doctor (Dr. Berton Taffet)
whom did an outstanding job every time he operated on her. The FOURTH FALL came when
she passed out talking to someone in her building. This time, she hit her head on the hard floor,
cutting it open. While on the floor, Maja answered all the questions she was asked by the
emergency police officer who was holding her. She told us she could not remember how she
fell, but she certainly remembered the handsome face of the young police officer that helped to attended to her.
Well, you would think Maja was done with her falls - but not so fast!! It was the end of June,
2020, when she tried to speed walk with her walker inside her apartment, as if she was driving
a car on the Autobahn. This resulted in a FIFTH FALL; a broken shoulder and a fractured pelvis.
Unfortunately, the best decision at this point was not to have any more surgeries. Thank
goodness, that was her final fall. That was it!!
While at the hospital, Maja had made the decision to go home and rest. She had decided
rehab was no longer an option for her and thanks to her family doctor, Dr. Robert G. Collum, of
Denville (who she used to call “my teddy bear” because of how gentle and caring of a doctor
he was), Maja was again back to her home sweet home. Maja said she was done getting a free
ride in the ambulance and being carried by strong, handsome young fellows.
At home, with a mind of a young person, she enjoyed her last days listening to classical music,
watching tv in her living room, and enjoying the company of her beloved aid, Lavern, who took
care of her like she was a queen.
Then, came the day she had decided to take her long nap. A final, restful nap. She was at
peace and happy. She said goodbye and flew away from us. We all said, “Auf Wiedersehen!"
“For me, this is the place to be. This is it. I loved it here. It ends when I die. As far as I am
concerned, you can put my ashes in a cardboard box and throw it in the ocean. Do not keep
inside as a remembrance because it will only accumulate more dust. Get rid of it. Life is here!
Life is now!"
She will be missed by so many people with whom she held cherished relationships, but mostly
by me. She was not only my best friend, but she was also like a mother to me. We loved each
other unconditionally and profoundly. Every day she would repeat the statement “In my mind,
Angels were all blond. I was wrong. Mine came as a brunette.” We learned so much from each
other, but most importantly, the very “conservative” Maja said she taught me how to drink wine
in style, and I, in turn, taught her how to curse a few words (also in style). "Thanks to my angel
who does that pretty well”, Maja would say jokingly.
As Maja requested, there will be no eulogy, no tears (well not too many anyway), no prayers,
no funeral service. Instead, she would love for everyone who loved her to go out to a
restaurant and enjoy their favorite food in her honor. For those who like to drink, take a shot or
two and enjoy a good glass of wine or an apricot sour. (Please don’t drink and drive.) Instead
of flowers, please enjoy the day outside in nature, and, if you wish, donate to your local police,
fire, or ambulance squad.
“Most of all, keep smiling! Life is beautiful!!”
Keep flying my beautiful Maja!!! We love you and you will forever be in our hearts!!!
16 RIGHTER AVENUE, DENVILLE, NJ 07834
DAVID G. MILNE, MANAGER NJ LIC. NO. 4301
SERVING THE DENVILLE, ROCKAWAY, PARSIPPANY, Mt. Lakes, Boonton,
Morris Plains & SURROUNDING AREAS OF NEW JERSEY SINCE 1957