Local Obituaries

Charles Bracelen Flood, noted writer, dies at home in Richmond at age 84

Mr. Flood
Mr. Flood

Noted writer and historian Charles Bracelen Flood, 84, died Friday at his home in Richmond.

Mr. Flood authored more than a dozen books, including the 1953 bestselling novel Love Is a Bridge, for which he had a contract before he graduated from Harvard. Other novels included A Distant Drum and More Lives than One.

He wrote a number of books on historic figures, including Adolf Hitler, Robert E. Lee and William T. Sherman.

Recent offerings included 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History, which was released in 2009, and, in 2011, Grant's Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant's Heroic Last Year.

His short pieces were published in magazines, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Esquire.

He finished his most recent work, The Lafayette Escadrille, two months ago. The book, which tells the story of Americans who volunteered to serve as pilots on the Western front before the U.S. entered World War I, is to be published next year.

Mr. Flood was born in New York City and spent much of his life there.

He was well-traveled, having taught world literature at Sophia University in Tokyo from 1963 to 1965, and he spent time in Taiwan as a senior Fulbright scholar.

He covered the Olympic Games in Australia, Italy, Japan and Mexico as a reporter for The Associated Press and spent a year as an embedded correspondent in Vietnam, which resulted in the controversial book The War of the Innocents.

Mr. Flood moved to a farm in Richmond in 1975, after marrying Kentucky native Katherine Phelps Burnam, who had been working in Manhattan.

He became known locally as an outspoken opponent of plans to incinerate the chemical weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot and later was part of a group of Kentucky writers who spoke out against mountaintop removal.

He was active at St. Mark Catholic Church and taught literature classes to middle school students at the parish school, said his son Caperton Flood.

"He was just an incredibly outgoing, friendly guy," Caperton Flood said. "Very, very kind with his time."

Betina Gardner, dean of libraries at Eastern Kentucky University, recalled Mr. Flood as "a great ambassador" for the school's libraries and a friend of the students there.

"He resurrected our Friends of the Library and made that a very active group," she said.

Although he was not on staff at EKU, Mr. Flood for years worked out of an office in the John Grant Crabbe Library. He had coffee in the library's cafe every day, striking up conversations with students and, over time, developing relationships with them, Gardner recalled.

"He loved talking to them, hearing about their lives," Gardner said. "He was a very caring person."

Caperton Flood said that when students from this area applied to Harvard, his father conducted local interviews on behalf of his alma mater.

Mr. Flood was a past president of the American Center of PEN, an international writers' organization, and he served on the governing bodies of the Authors League and the Authors Guild.

In 1989, Mr. Flood told former Herald-Leader columnist Don Edwards that people often asked whether he planned to write about Kentucky.

"I've been so busy living life here that I haven't found time to step back and look at it as material for a book," Mr. Flood said.

In addition to his wife, Katherine Flood, Mr. Flood is survived by three children and four grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at St. Mark Catholic Church in Richmond. Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the church. Oldham, Roberts & Powell Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.