Robert J. Bedard, political consultant and gardener, dies

Robert J. Bedard, a semi-retired political consultant and gardener who won a Baltimore Sun garden award for his efforts to revive the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly population and beautify his Southwest Baltimore neighborhood, died March 7 from heart failure at his Pigtown residence. He was 67.

Robert Joseph Bedard was the son of Albert J. Bedard, a restaurateur, and Doris Bedard, a homemaker. He was born in Boston and raised in Sudbury, Mass.

He was a graduate of Xavier High School in Concord, Mass., and attended George Washington University.

From 1977 to 1980, Mr. Bedard worked for the American Trial Lawyers Association in community outreach.

He worked on Rep. Morris K. Udall’s 1976 presidential bid and, four years later, on independent John B. Anderson’s campaign.

For almost 30 years, he was a political strategist and communications adviser for several unions including the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ Locals 2186 and 2187, the Philadelphia Firefighters, Teamster Locals 429, 463 and 776, and Steamfitters Local 420.

In the 1980s, he established and served as president of ArtPAC, which was created “to fight cutbacks in federal support and to lobby for change in tax codes” that limited what artists could deduct when they donated works to a museum, gallery or library, reported The Washington Post in 1985.

A brother, Paul Bedard of Purcellville, Va., said that Mr. Bedard’s clients also included such well known political cartoonists as Pat Oliphant, Jeff MacNelly, Tony Auth, Paul Szep, M.G. Lord, Art Wood, Dan Wasserman and Paul Conrad.

“Through ArtPac donations, Mr. Bedard helped in the 1989 Supreme Court victory of Baltimore sculptor James Earl Reid in retaining his copyright to a noted sculpture showing a homeless family huddled on a steam grate,” his brother said.

“In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that those who create art, literature or music under commission by someone else own the copyright to that work themselves, unless they have agreed in writing to let the sponsor have rights to it,” reported The Baltimore Sun in 1989.

In 2014, Mr. Bedard moved to Pigtown and took advantaged of the city’s Adopt-A-Lot program, taking charge of a 12-foot-wide rubble-strewn lot next to his home.

After purchasing the lot, he used the TreesBaltimore program that provides free trees to city residents and planted three American holly tres and a willow oak. In 2105, he planted parsley, dill, bear’s breeches and turtlehead.

“He planted milkweed in hopes of attracting butterflies and was rewarded with 20 monarchs,” reported The Sun. “He hopes to attract the elusive Baltimore checkerspot butterfly.”

“During the recent unrest, Baltimore was severely criticized for its vacant alleys, boarded-up or vacant houses, rubble and trash-strewn alleys and public areas,” Mr. Bedard wrote in a 2015 letter to The Sun’s garden judges. “Baltimore took it lying down without even explaining the many programs available to citizens to correct some of these problems. … My garden may serve to highlight the many available service the city DOES provide to citizens.”

Mr. Bedard’s flower and tree planting efforts inspired his neighbors who joined in beautifying their homes and yards.

Last year, he established Bob’s Butterfly Gardens & Landscaping of Baltimore, his brother said.

No services are planned.

In addition to his brother, Mr. Bedard is survived by three other brothers, William Bedard of Orange, Mass., Steven Bedard of Milford, Conn., and Joseph Bedard of Boise, Idaho.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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