PROSSER -- Less than a day after the beloved grandmother and popular community volunteer died, Eileen Bradley's family reached out to forgive the driver who accidentally killed her.
"We have no ill feelings against (him)," said Steve Bradley, Eileen's husband. "This could have happened to anybody. I feel sorry for him. He got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time too."
The 63-year-old, who was blind since birth, was walking along a Meade Avenue sidewalk shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday when Jack Stroh backed his pickup out of his driveway and struck her.
Police are investigating but say Stroh simply didn't see her, said Prosser Police Detective Mark Cole.
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"At this point, it appears to be a tragic accident," Cole said.
Eileen's family hold Stroh completely blameless, and told him so during a visit Wednesday, Steve said.
"He was honestly doing something that was not reckless," said Bradley, 65, a longtime physician's assistant.
Meanwhile, the accident has left this town mourning the loss of a woman who family and friends said never let blindness interfere with her relationships or lessen her joy for life.
"Eileen lived her life real time," Steve said. "She didn't dwell on the past. She didn't worry about the future too much. She had the best year of her life, I think."
Survivors also include the couple's two children, Sean Bradley and Heather Hildahl, and six grandchildren.
Sean declined an interview but posted this note on his Facebook wall Wednesday: "Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers! It means a lot to all of us! The first face my mom ever saw was Jesus, face to face! I love you mom."
Eileen was known for her love of music, church volunteer work, tutoring and frequent walks around Prosser with her cane. And when her children were babies, she carried them in a backpack.
Steve and Eileen met as neighbor children in California when she was 5 years old. They were married 43 years and lived in Prosser for 41. Eileen cooked almost all the meals in their house and graduated with the highest scores among women in her class at the University of Southern California, where she majored in sociology.
In 1974, Eileen was honored with an award in Olympia by then-Gov. Dan Evans for her volunteer work helping the Yakima County Superior Court with pre-sentencing investigations. She also was Prosser's outstanding woman of the year in 1996.
This year, she had been caring for her youngest grandchild while her daughter taught art in Prosser elementary schools.
Steve and Eileen attended Prosser's First Baptist Church but were popular with both those who do and do not fill the pews regularly, said Rod Stutzman, pastor of Prosser Community Church, where Sean Bradley and his family attend.
"I think it goes beyond the church community, it goes to the whole community," Stutzman said.
Eileen tutored many children in math, including three of Stutzman's. Music was a big part of her life too.
In the 1990s, Steve and Eileen played in an old-time gospel band called Traveling Shoes that visited churches and festivals up and down the Yakima Valley.
Eileen was the lead singer and played the autoharp, said her bandmate L.J. DaCorsi, the public works director for the city of Prosser.
"She was an incredible, caring, kind, loving person when it came to everybody," DaCorsi said.
Steve is part owner of the Prosser Funeral Home where his partner, Carlen J. Majnarich, is handling arrangements.
A funeral has been scheduled for 2:30 p.m. March 17 at the Grandview Nazarene Church.