Gisela Berta Bradley (nee Brandau) was born on April 10, 1941 in Muenster, the little German town her family has inhabited for some 200 years. Despite the chaos of the time, she was a happy and energetic little girl. The youngest of four children, she matured into a beautiful and joyful woman with exceptional ambitions that propelled her through a life filled with accomplishments, travel, and treasured relationships.
In her early twenties, Gisela met Dan Bradley, an American airman stationed in what was then West Germany. They married, moved to the United States, and had two children, Mike and Maggie. With Uncle Sam’s help, Gisela and Dan gave their kids the rare privilege of living all over Europe. Mike and Maggie learned to speak German and a little French while immersing themselves in fascinating cultures most people only get to dream about. The family settled in Austin in 1978. Gisela and Dan eventually parted ways, but their continued friendship served as a fine example for their kids, who are grateful to this day.
Gisela was never one to dawdle. Shortly after arriving stateside, she officially became an American citizen. She proved to be a gifted manager of business and people, serving as the law-office manager for the prestigious Austin law firm then known as Hilgers & Watkins. She eventually started her own management-support business, serving clients that longtime Austinites will remember fondly, such as Uptown Enchilada Bar and Dale’s Auto Parts. In time, her quest for a good challenge pushed her from accomplished entrepreneur to fearless pioneer. She took a position with the State Bar of Texas and started — from scratch — Texas’s groundbreaking Law Practice Management Program. And while she was doing all of this, she continued her education, earning a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from St. Edward’s University.
Gisela retired in 2006, but idleness wasn’t her thing. She kept herself busy with consulting and other jobs, including a stint at Google (a company that no one could have fathomed in postwar Muenster). In 2018, Gisela moved to New Braunfels — that beautiful Texas Hill Country jewel whose blend of American and German culture suited her perfectly. Anyone who knew Gisela would have seen that coming. It’s where she belonged.
Over the years, Gisela lived in (and spread abundant cheer throughout) Germany, England, Belgium, and the United States. She had a busy social life: She forged friendships in both hemispheres, and maintained those friendships over many years and many miles. She touched everyone she met with her kindness, her smile, her genuine love, and her trademark belly laugh.
Gisela joined our Heavenly Father on January 18, 2020, peacefully and surrounded by her family. She has been reunited with her parents, Johannes and Ana Brandau, her brother Hans, and her sister Elisabeth. Her buoyant spirit continues to live in the hearts of many: sister Katharina; son Mike Bradley and his wife Kim; daughter Maggie Carty and her husband Rob; grandchildren Kenny Bradley, Michael Bradley, Megan Carty, Robby Carty, and Danielle Carty; step-grandchildren Vicki Mohr and Diana Huerta; an array of nieces and nephews, many with children of their own; and far too many friends to count. She was 78 years old.
Visitation will be Sunday, January 26 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Doeppenschmidt Funeral Home in New Braunfels. A Funeral Mass will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, January 27 at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in New Braunfels. In lieu of flowers, consider donating in Gisela’s memory to either The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or Halo House Foundation in Houston, Texas.