William C. "Billy" Bonardi III

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Billy Bonardi, 36; kept his parents young

Billy C. Bonardi III, 36, loved to hang out with his parents and friends. He loved to eat. He loved rock 'n' roll. And he really liked cutting his grass.

A business analyst at AAi Foster Grant in Smithfield, Billy lived in the same town he worked in, and just five minutes away from his parents, William C. and Dorothy E. Bonardi of Lincoln.

He would check in on his parents during the workweek and share a meal cooked by his mom. He loved lasagna. On the weekends, he stopped by again to go grocery shopping with his mother.

Billy was the Bonardis' only child, and even at 36, he always let them know where he was.

"During meals he would fill us in on all the stuff he did and the funny things he and his friends did," his mom recalled. "He kept us young by telling us what was going on with young people and the world."

His dad said that when Billy covered the Providence Bruins hockey team for DSN Sports on WALE radio, he made a lot of friends. "He was only 5 foot 5 and those hockey guys were huge. They would always pick him out from the crowd of announcers to talk to," Mr. Bonardi said. Billy's house is filled with hockey sticks and memorabilia from his beloved Red Sox and Washington Redskins and mementos from Japan and China.

Billy fell in love with those countries on business trips for Burns of Boston a couple of years back. "The people he met there still send him cards and presents," his father said.

Carol Hartnett and Billy became fast friends while working at AAi Foster Grant.

"As only children we don't have anybody else, so we bonded immediately like brother and sister," said Hartnett, 37, of Johnston.

They both loved rock 'n' roll, so they went to concerts together.

Hartnett said Billy was a "fanatic for his lawn," to the point where a friend once gave him a Yankee candle with a scent called "fresh cut grass."

Salvatore Esposito, 32, met Billy when they both worked at Burns of Boston.

Billy loved Esposito's four-month-old baby "like he was his."

"He was always really caring. Put you first," Esposito said.

They both liked all kinds of rock 'n' roll, and often went to The Station. They were there together that Thursday night.

Esposito said that when he saw the fire race across the ceiling he grabbed Billy and they headed toward the exit, but he lost his grip on Billy in the crowd.

"Every time we used to get together, Billy and I used to talk about what we did the time before. We'd laugh till it hurt. Billy left a lot of good memories for me."

-- Tatiana Pina, Providence Journal staff writer

Published in The Providence Journal on Mar. 20, 2003
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