Norman T. Bedard, Jr., founder of the Parade of Lights in West Warwick, died unexpectedly February 15, 2023 at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 76.
Proud of his roots, Norman embraced his hometown traditions, building colorful and creative parade floats for the Portuguese Holy Ghost Feast in West Warwick. Although he lived in New Jersey for most of his life, he returned to his hometown each Labor Day weekend to celebrate his heritage with family and friends. He loved Labor Day more than Christmas and called the Parade of Lights “his dream come true.” Now in its 32nd year, it is his legacy.
In addition to Labor Day, Norman also enjoyed Portuguese food and often cooked Malasadas (Portuguese doughboys) for his neighbors, colleagues and friends. He was interested in his Portuguese ancestry, and through his efforts, his grandparents, Manuel and Maria Pimental, were the first individuals inducted into the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.’s American Immigrant Hall of Honor.
Norman was a proud 1964 graduate of West Warwick High School, and when he was a student, he dressed as the school’s mascot for football games. Loyalty to his high school spanned his lifetime. Norman always looked forward to his class reunions, and when his younger sister was a West Warwick High school cheerleader, he was her biggest supporter. For every football game, Norman designed huge posters and would often go to the games to see her and his beloved Wizards.
When his sister’s seventeenth birthday landed on Thanksgiving, Norman surprised her at the Thanksgiving Day football game by having a helicopter land on the field. Santa exited the helicopter, presenting mementos to both teams, and a gigantic “Happy Birthday” sign was unfurled. It’s a birthday she will never forget.
Norman earned an associate’s degree in business administration from the Community College of Rhode Island and worked for 35 years as a manager for R.S. Knapp/Napco Copy Graphics in New Jersey. He was a U.S. Navy veteran.
Norman had a green thumb, and when he lived in New Jersey, he loved working in his greenhouse, which featured flowers, plants, fruit trees and small birds. He also had a lush backyard that included a Koi pond with a waterfall.
Much to the dismay of his neighbors, he proudly displayed Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots flags in front of his home. And during the holidays, his elaborate front yard displays attracted much attention.
When Norman headed south, mango and avocado trees, plants and flowers decorated his yard in Fort Lauderdale.
With his outgoing personality and infectious and generous spirit, Norman had a heart of gold and was always willing to help others. He often hosted gatherings for his friends and was the life of the party. Passionate about human rights issues, Norman never hesitated to stand up for what he believed in.
Whenever Norman was in Rhode Island, he liked to go clamming with his father and brothers at his father’s “secret place.” He also loved dogs, could never pass up a good sale and collected crowns because they resembled the Holy Ghost crown used during Portuguese Labor Day festivities. In fact, Norman owned a replica Holy Ghost crown that he recently donated to St. Anthony Church in West Warwick in honor of his parents.
Norman was predeceased by his parents, Norman T. “Pete” Bedard and Mary R. (Pimental) Bedard; his sister-in-law, Kate Bedard; his nephew, Eddie Kiselica; and his niece, Jennifer Kiselica. He is survived by his brothers, Richard N. Bedard (Nancy) and Larry J. Bedard (Mary); his sister, Mary Catherine Falcone (Richard); and many nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind his beloved dog, Tiffany.
A celebration of Norman’s life will be held Saturday, May 20, 2023. Visiting hours will be from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in the PRATA-GALLOGLY Funeral Home, 78 Providence Street, West Warwick, followed by a short service at the funeral home. Burial will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery, West Warwick.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Norman’s name can be made to the Parade of Lights. Checks should be made out to the Portuguese American Sport Club and mailed in c/o Mary Falcone, 17 Reddington Street, Coventry, RI 02816. Please specify that your donation is for the Parade of Lights in the memo section of your check.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Norman T. Bedard, Jr., please visit our floral store.
Portuguese American Sports Club
c/o Mary Falcone, 17 Reddington Street, Coventry RI 02816
**Please specify that your donation is for the Parade of Lights in the memo section of your check