NYSCL 2018 25 OVER LIONEL BEDESSEE MEMORIAL CUP
SPONSORED BY: Bedessee Imports & Sporting Goods
Lionel Moona Bedessee, A Dynasty Created, A Legacy Ensured
By James Persaud
August 5, 2018
When the organizers of the New York Softball Cricket League (NYSCL) asked Mr. Chub Bedessee about a sponsorship for a competition. Without hesitation, his answer was yes, and the next question was what would be the name of the competition? Mr. Bedessee like most sons spoke very highly of his father and the recent death of his father Lionel Moona Bedessee.
So, it was only fitting that he wanted to do something in his father memory. He said his father loved cricket and this would be something he would have loved to be involved in. Next, it was the beginning of the NYSCL 2018 25 Over Lionel Bedessee Memorial Cup.
Our purpose here is to celebrate the life and immortality of a husband, father, grandfather, cousin, uncle, and friend Mr. Lionel Moona Bedessee. The founder and President of Bedessee Imports Ltd. He really lived and embraced then Hindu philosophy of “Vasudeva Kutum-Bakam” which means “the world is one family”. He was humble, kind-hearted, caring and a generous man. In pursuit of our celebration, we would like to take you back to the time of his life’s journey to reflect on all he has done and the people he impacted.
Lionel Moona Beddessee (LMB) was born on November 11th, 1933 in Port Mourtant Corentyne Berbice Guyana. He was the 4th child of the late Ramnauth and Mary Ramkumarie Bedessee. The legacy of LMB lives through his wife Evelyn, children, Pamela, Rose, Verman, Ravi, Rayman, Chubb and Invor. LMB is survived by 12 grandchildren, he was predeceased by two brothers Dr. Manwel and Morton and one sister Floris.
Growing up LMB attended the Courantyne Anglican High School. He grew up working in the family business. He left school to work in the family’ rice fields and store to support his other siblings. Throughout all that, he still managed to do so much more.
At the age of 20, he decided to venture out on his own and start a business. He began selling small household items such as twine, balloons, and rubber bands. After examining the market, he realized that there was a lack of supply of cricket gears and so he began to sell these products to others within the community. This was the stepping stone for his future business ventures.
In the 1950’s Lionel was determined to get his business off the ground. He would ride his bike to sell many goods throughout Corentyne Guyana, region. One of the stops he would often make was at the Ganga Persaud Family Store. It was there that he would meet his future wife Evelyn.
On April 24th, 1960 Lionel aged 27 and Evelyn 19 were married, vowing to spend the rest of their lives together. Evelyn became his wife, partner, friend, life companion and the mother of his seven children for almost 57 years. Together they raised and built a successful family business.
After the birth of their seventh child, LMB decided to embark on a new journey so he moved to Canada with his 4 eldest children to be assistance to his eldest brother, Dr. Manwel Bedessee. Coming to Canada was challenging for LBM as there were many adjustments that had to be made with respect to climate, culture, and business.
Despite settling in Canada, LMB was not entirely satisfied. He tried many different jobs and even took a course in Appliance and Refrigeration at Conestoga College at the age of 42. Some of his odd jobs including painting the GM factory in Woodstock and making rubber shoes for Kaufman. He even worked at a twine factory. At his core, though he always wanted to be an employer and in charge of his own business. Being simply a company employee was just not to his liking.
In 1974, Evelyn and the other 3 children moved from Guyana to Canada to reunite with LMB and the family in Waterloo, Ontario. In 1977, the entire family moved from Waterloo and became resident in Toronto, where LMB restarted his entrepreneurial journey. He rented a small store on Queen Street, West and that was the beginning of the business operations.
While running the retail store, LMB was attentive to the requests of his customers. He realized that his customers needed products that were unavailable in Canada. So, being the determined individual, he was, he sought out and started exploring more business opportunities within the import and export industry to accommodate the needs of his customers.
LMB traveled to many countries worldwide in search of well-known Guyanese brands. Some of the countries, at the time, were considered unsafe for travelers but that did not stop LMB. As determined as he was to acquire his customer's requested goods and supplies.
LMB’s good insight permitted his business in the import and export industry to grow exponentially. As the children began to get older, the family became completely dedicated and involved in the process of operating the business and its day to day activities. The business began to grow rapidly and by the early 80’s they did need to relocate to a larger location. The business was moved from its original 1429 Queen street location to a larger facility at 1373 Queen Street Toronto. By this time the company had become incorporated. The family also began making regular commutes to New York to trade various goods including cricket gears.
In 1984, Bedessee closed its retail operations and opened their strictly wholesale and manufacturing only operations in Scarborough, Ontario. LMB was constantly looking for ways to add innovative technology to his business. He successfully did just that by designing a state of the art chowmein factory, which is now still operational at Bedessee Imports Scarborough headquarters.
LMB’s creation, Bedessee Imports has since flourished to now encompass operations in several cities including Toronto, New York, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Kingston, Jamaica. Throughout this entire forty-years period, LMB maintained a simple humble lifestyle.
He had the opportunity to live a life of luxury and could have dined at will at any fancy restaurants. He preferred instead to enjoy his own self-made home cooked meals. LMB loved cooking and serving the people in his community. He regularly held pooja ceremonies which brought his family and friends together. LMB was known to welcome everyone with open arms and treated everyone like family a member.
LMB was well respected and loved in many communities throughout the world. He always turned down awards that associations attempted to present to him. He never wanted to be in the spotlight, just live a simple life. For example, he was inducted into the Cricket Hall of Fame and he did not want to give a speech which was customary. So, his grandson Elliot stepped up to the pitch and gave an acceptance speech on his behalf.
LMB’s determination to get what he wanted was insurmountable. What he cherished most was to raise a good hard-working family, which would serve as an example to the rest of society. Aside from business and family, LMB hobbies including playing and listening to music. He played the mandolin, accordion, harmonium, dantal and maracas.
He was also a movie and television fanatic. Old black and white Indian movies, James Bond and Dallas were among his many favorites. He was a great dancer and absolutely loved gardening. He hosted many parties and poojas over many years, for the simple purpose of bringing his family and friends together.
He will always be remembered for his loving eyes, sweet smile, soft-spoken nature and all his good memories. The legacies that he left us to remember are of his love for God, his dedication to his family and to the communities that he’s affected. LMB would want us to remember to serve humbly with love for all. In his words, “the world is one family”.