Bradley Courneya, of Idaho Springs, CO, died at the Denver VA Hospital on August 9, 2022 at the age of 71. He had fought a long and valiant battle with cancer since 2006. Agent Orange finally got him.
Brad was born in 1950 to parents George and Florence (Uphus) Courneya in Detroit Lakes, MN. He attended Holy Rosary School until 8th grade and graduated from Detroit Lakes High School in 1968. He enjoyed hunting and fishing with his friends and family growing up and into adulthood. He also played basketball and baseball. While in high school, he developed an interest in emergency medicine and worked as a technician for the local DL ambulance.
He volunteered for the military after graduation and completed training at Ft Bragg, NC, and Ft Gorden, GA, including paratrooper/airborne certification, special forces medical instruction, and weapons specialist training. He volunteered for service in Vietnam in 1971 and served there until medical problems necessitated his transfer to the United States for hospitalization. He was honorably discharged in April 1971. After his release he traveled and lived in Minneapolis, Las Vegas and Colorado. He worked at his brother’s company, Bradley Automotive, and at several group homes serving underprivileged youth in Minneapolis, Las Vegas and Denver. He married Nancy (Mirra R) during this time. They then divorced. Brad attended the University of Minnesota for 3 years, qualifying for Dean’s List during that time. He then transferred to the nursing program at Rochester (MN) Community College, which he completed in 1979. After graduation, he worked at Indian Health Service Hospital in Shiprock, NM, then returned in Rochester, MN for employment at Mayo Clinic St Mary’s hospital ER. During this time he married Glenda. They then divorced.
Emergency nursing was her favorite specialty. This led him to continue his studies at Mayo. He was accepted into the Mayo Nurse-Anesthesia program and graduated in 1985 as a CRNA. While working at Mayo, he met Rhonda Nickel, who became his partner and wife until her death. He was employed at Schoolcraft Hospital, Manistique, MI (Upper Peninsula) until 1986 when he returned to his hometown of Detroit Lakes to care for his parents. Brad was employed in Detroit Lakes by Dakota Clinic (now Essentia Health), first as a staff member and later as a supervisor. While there, he set up new services, including regional and epidural anesthesia. While living in Detroit Lakes, Brad and Rhonda purchased hunting land in northern Becker County and spent many happy years there hunting, hiking and 4-wheeling. He was forced to retire in 2009 due to complications from cancer.
Brad and Rhonda moved to Idaho Springs, CO in 2015 to retire. While they loved the great outdoors of Minnesota, Brad’s previous CO experiences convinced them to “take the plunge” and move to the mountains. There they made up for lost time attending concerts at Red Rocks, riding motorcycles, traveling and simply enjoying the beauty.
Brad is survived by his wife Rhonda and siblings Gary Courneya (Indio, CA), Bruce Courneya (Blaine, MN), Marcia (Courneya) Franta (Maple Grove, MN), Gail (Courneya) Headrick (Maple Grove, MN), Mike Courneya (Plymouth, MN), Jeff Courneya (Chamlin, MN) and Lucia (Courneya) Jochim (Maple Grove, MN). He is also survived by his sweet Golden Retriever, Maizie. He was predeceased by his parents and his loyal puppies Griz, Cedar and Zoey. His ashes will be divided between Evergreen Memorial Park, Evergreen, CO, and his beloved hunting ground. Memorials should be sent to St. Jude Children’s Hospital or disabled veterans organizations. Family and friends are encouraged to leave souvenirs and upload photos to the Evergreen Memorial Park website. (www.evergreenmemorialpark.com).