- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2002

PHILADELPHIA Kenneth Harold Bridges, 53, the eighth person shot and killed by the Washington area sniper, was remembered yesterday as "a giant among men" by one of his sons during a memorial service attended by more than 800 people in the First District building
Mr. Bridges, a businessman and father of six, was killed by a single bullet to the chest while filling up his car at a Spotsylvania, Va., Exxon gas station at 9:30 p.m. on Friday. He was returning home from a business trip in Virginia.
"We all knew he was a great man. Ken truly cared about people," said Joe Dudley Sr., a business partner and friend of Mr. Bridges.
Mr. Bridges was hailed as an inspirational and groundbreaking black leader, who left a successful corporate position to pursue his dream of helping black people achieve financial and social success.
"Ken was a man of initiative. He went where other people were afraid to go. He had courage," Mr. Dudley said.
Mr. Bridges' children spoke of him as a joyful, caring father.
"He was a very loving man. He was the greatest man I've ever known," said son Justin, 20.
His 16-year-old son, Joshua, said, "If I could be just half the man he was, I'd be a great man."
A number of public officials attended the memorial service in West Philadelphia, including Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street, U.S. Rep. Robert A. Brady, a Democrat, and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan. The first five fatal sniper shootings occurred in Montgomery County.
"I'm a father of five, and when I heard that Mr. Bridges had six children, it tore my heart up that these children lost a father for no reason at all," Mr. Duncan said.
Mr. Bridges and his wife, Jocelyn, had been married for 21 years and also have daughters ages 24, 22, 15 and 12.
He was born to Hubert and Mary Goode Bridges in Germany, where his father was stationed while in the U.S. Army. At age 3, his family moved to Detroit, where he attended Central High School and was captain of the football team.
Mr. Bridges graduated from Hillsdale College in 1971, then earned a master's in business administration in 1973 from the Wharton School of business at the University of Pennsylvania. He worked for seven years as a marketing executive for the Scott Paper Co.
In 1980, Mr. Bridges left the company and began to branch out into various entrepreneurial ventures aimed at helping black people sell and distribute their products.
Michael Jones, one of his business partners since the early 1980s, said that Mr. Bridges helped him overcome his blindness. Mr. Jones bought a two-person bicycle, and Mr. Bridges would sometimes ride it with him.
"Ken was a man who gave sight to the blind," Mr. Jones said. "Whenever I was with him, I had sight. I saw through his eyes."
Friends and family said they had never seen Mr. Bridges as happy and excited than in the past year. His dream of using his business savvy to help people and better the world was coming to fruition.
He was frequently on the road, working to promote and advance his new company, but his family never wavered in their support, according to Dr. Edward Robinson, a family friend.
"They suffered with not a murmur, but with applause and support," he said.
"Now, we must throw our arms around them and support and build them, so that Ken's death is not in vain."


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