Robert Bedard, 67, a longtime political strategist and consultant to labor unions including the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, died of heart failure Wednesday, March 7, at his home in Baltimore.
Though he was based in the Washington area, Mr. Bedard was called upon by numerous Philadelphia unions for communications assistance, particularly during contract negotiations. In addition to the PFT, he worked for locals representing SEPTA workers, Philadelphia Orchestra musicians, steamfitters, firefighters, and other city workers.
Mr. Bedard also worked on numerous political campaigns, including the presidential bids of Reps. Morris K. Udall and John Anderson and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
For his work with the city teachers' union at crucial moments, Jerry Jordan, PFT president, said in a statement that Mr. Bedard was "an individual whose footprint will always be part of the collective bargaining team. We will miss him."
In 1980, Mr. Bedard created ArtPAC, a political action committee, to push for tax-friendly legislation for artists and political cartoonists. He held annual shows featuring well-known cartoonists including the Inquirer's Tony Auth.
Mr. Bedard, in 1985, described his group to the Inquirer as "the political voice for the arts and artists before the Congress."
He was a native of Massachusetts, and loved boating and the Baltimore Orioles. In 2014, he semi-retired to Baltimore, where he worked to revive the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly, replacing a vacant lot with a pollinator garden that won honors.
He was not a gardener. But he took advantage of a Baltimore program that allowed residents to purchase neglected plots of land at low cost, and envisioned something beautiful in the small space next to his house.
"During the recent unrest, Baltimore was severely criticized for its vacant alleys, boarded-up and/or vacant houses, rubble and trash-strewn alleys and public areas," Mr. Bedard wrote to the Baltimore Sun in 2015. "Baltimore took it lying down without even explaining the many programs available to citizens to correct some of those problems. … My garden may serve to highlight the many available service the city DOES provide to citizens."
He is survived by four brothers.
Services will be announced later.