“Clifford the Big Red Dog” Author Norman Ray Bridwell Dead at 86

He was a resident of Edgartown, Massachusetts

Norman Ray Bridwell, author of the popular children's book series "Clifford the Big Red Dog," has died. He was 86 years old.

"Norman Bridwell’s books about Clifford, childhood’s most loveable dog, could only have been written by a gentle man with a great sense of humor," said Dick Robinson, the chairman, president and CEO of Scholastic, which published Bridwell's books. "Norman personified the values that we as parents and educators hope to communicate to our children — kindness, compassion, helpfulness, gratitude — through the Clifford stories which have been loved for more than 50 years."

Bridwell died on Friday at Martha's Vineyard Hospital, according to his death notice. He was a resident of Edgartown and had lived on Martha's Vineyard since 1969.

Bridwell was a prodigious author and illustrator: 129 million copies of his more than 150 books are in print, according to Scholastic. Besides the Clifford series, he also authored books like "The Witch Next Door" and "A Tiny Family."

Bridwel's lovable dog jumped onto the small screen in 2000 with an animated series on PBS Kids.

According to Bridwell's publisher, Scholastic, he grew up in Kokomo, Indiana. After high school, he studied art at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis and at Cooper Union in New York City. While attempting to get a job as a freelance illustrator in 1962, he drew a picture of a huge bloodhound and a little girl, the basis for what would eventually become "Clifford." The first book was published in 1963.

The Martha's Vineyard Times said Bridwell was involved in the community, and was an annual contributor to the Possible Dreams auction, a major fundraiser for Martha's Vineyard charities.

Bridwell is survived by his wife, Norma (Howard) Bridwell, and his children, Tim Bridwell and Emily Bridwell Merz.

A memorial service will be held in the summer of 2015.

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