Robert Souza

Robert Souza

Robert Souza, a long-time resident of Claremont and one of the nation’s pioneers in the field of professional firework displays, entered into rest after a long struggle with a chronic illness. Born on June 8, 1930 in Oakland, California to Alfred and Cecilia Souza, Robert was preceded in death by his brother Earl, and survived by his sister, Barbara and brother, Albert.

He leaves behind his wife of 63 years, Shirley, and children, James (Liann), Nancy (Ian Gilfillan) and Gary (Elizabeth); Grandchildren, Paul, Christopher (Melissa), Richard, Matthew (Laura), Kevin, Nick, Kelly and Garrett; Great Grandchildren, Amelia and Andrew.

Robert spent the first fifty years of his life in Oakland, California. Upon graduating from Castlemont High School, Robert played professional baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization before marrying Shirley Perry and starting a family in Oakland. Early on, Robert was employed at the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company and worked as a sports referee, but a deep family tradition and real passion for fireworks led him to a full-time career in the pyrotechnic industry.

In 1974, he moved his family to Claremont, California where under his direction, California Fireworks Display Company became a prominent fireworks production company. Five years later, Robert started Pyro Spectaculars, a company that to this day is considered one of the premier firework display companies in the world. He will be remembered for his many contributions to the fireworks industry in the areas of safety, innovation, ethical business practices, and leadership. Robert served as President of the American Pyrotechnics Association and received the Association’s highest recognition as a Milton Dropo Award winner.

Robert Souza, through his warm smile and deep enthusiasm for life, friends and family, has influenced countless lives from around the world. His legacy will live on in the hearts of all those who knew and loved him.

Services will be held at Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Claremont on November 15 at 10:30 a.m. He will be laid to rest in Hayward on November 18 at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. Celebration of Life at Scott’s Seafood in Jack London Square, Oakland, from 12 to 3 p.m.

Memorial donation information can be found at

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.

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