As mourners came together Thursday, Sept. 1 to remember University of Chicago alumnus and employee Mandeep Bedi, AB’10, a portrait of an extremely charismatic man emerged, a person who embraced life, danced when he could have walked, and dazzled strangers and loved ones with his kindness and compassion.
Bedi, 23, who received an undergraduate degree in anthropology, worked on campus as a sales intern for the IT Services Solution Center at the University of Chicago. He died Thursday, Aug. 25, six days after sustaining injuries in a traffic incident.
His wife, Elizabeth Bedi, a fourth-year anthropology student in the undergraduate College, helped organize the day as a campus celebration and remembrance of Mandeep Bedi’s life.
Beginning on Bartlett Quad, Elizabeth Bedi, along with the couple’s friends and Mandeep Bedi’s colleagues, created a graffiti art installation in his memory. Mandeep Bedi’s senior thesis was on American graffiti.
Red, orange and yellow – his favorite colors -- dominated the installation, as did the letters, “BEZ,” for “be easy,” reflecting Bedi’s belief in accepting what life presents. Underneath an illustration of a rain cloud were the words: “be positive, everyday, lovingly always, Rain.”
As loved ones expressed their feelings with cans of spray paint, others folded origami swans. The hip-hop song “Tearz” by Wu-Tang Clan was the first song played over a set of loudspeakers propped up on the grass: Memories in the corner of my mind. Flashbacks, I was laughin’ all the time.
Later, Elizabeth Bedi led a group of family and friends to Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, where photos of her late husband lined the aisles. Following Sikh tradition, many guests wore white or bright colors.
As music from his iPod played, images of Mandeep Bedi from toddler to husband flashed across two television screens.
Elizabeth Bedi recalled his passion for life. Looking out at the tearful crowd, she recalled their love story. The couple married two months after meeting at an off-campus party.
“I’ve never felt love like that,” she said. “I am and will always be the luckiest woman.”
Next, Maggie Ruopp, the couple’s best friend, explained what made Mandeep Bedi so special.
“Mandeep really taught me how to love myself because he loved me so much,” she said.
Mandeep Bedi’s best man at his wedding, Matthias Dean-Carpentier, described the night his late friend met Elizabeth.
“We were walking down the street on 53rd and [Bedi] just started skipping,” said Dean-Carpentier. Bedi told his friend that he “had a feeling” that he just might meet the girl of his dreams really soon.
After Thursday’s reception at Ida Noyes, “the girl” led a small group of close friends to the Point for a final goodbye. Circling a bonfire, the group made smores, drew sketches and swapped more stories of their much-too-short time with Mandeep Bedi.
“I thought it was the perfect way to the end the day,” Ruopp said. “He would have loved it and forced me to stay longer. He would have said, ‘Maggie, you are not that tired!’ ”