Prof Beard

Professor Emeritus T V R Beard (27/02/1926 – 11/05/2017)


It is with sadness that we inform staff members of the death of Professor Emeritus Terence Beard, former head of the Department of Political Studies, Rhodes University. In life Prof Beard was an academic, a political philosopher, liberal thinker, World War II veteran and an anti-apartheid activist.


Terence Vigors Rait Beard was born in Durban on 27th February, 1926, and spent his childhood in various places in Natal and the Eastern Cape, including six months in Kirkwood where his mother taught domestic science. At about 8 or 9 the family relocated to Johannesburg. Here he first attended Norwood Government School and then Houghton College where he matriculated.


In 1944, he enlisted in the South African Defence Force, which was engaged in fighting the Nazi and Fascist menace during the Second World War. After basic training in Pretoria and Melkbosstrand, he was posted with the 17th Squadron of the South African Airforce to Cairo and then to Sardinia. After a few weeks in Sardinia he was stationed in Algeria, first Bone and then Algiers. While in North Africa he made use of a few weeks’ leave to visit various sites in occupied Italy. Later, for about a year, he was stationed in Bari, before being demobbed. Italy and its culture had, despite the war conditions, a huge impact on him and many years later, after retiring, he and his spouse, Dr Margot Beard, would have extended stays there and in Oxford.


Back to Durban in 1946, he registered for engineering at Howard College, keeping at it for four years. He hated it and decided rather to find employment, eventually in the Native Administration Department (NAD), studying part-time for his BA degree. In 1954, he won a scholarship to Oxford University, where he stayed until 1956. On his return to South Africa he re-joined the NAD. He applied for a position at the University of Fort Hare where he stayed from 1957 to 1959 when he was sacked by the Nationalist Party Government. Given a post at Rhodes University, Prof Beard remained there until his retirement at the end of 1991, first in the Department of Philosophy and later as founder and HOD of the Department of Political Studies.


These were the years of Apartheid against which Terence Beard was a bold and outspoken critic and activist. He was an active member of the Liberal Party of South Africa, joining eminent persons such as its founder, Alan Paton, Margaret Ballinger, Leo Marquard, H. Selby Msimang and Oscar Wollheim in a political party which strove for representation across the colour line. The Apartheid State was virulent in its action against anyone looking for equity for all races and Terence was served with banning orders (along with another RU activist, Norman Bromberger) from1962 till August, 1966. This severely restricted his personal movement, teaching, socialising and political activity. It took a personal appeal by the then Vice-Chancellor, Dr Hyslop, to John Vorster to rescind the banning as part of the amnesties associated with the fifth anniversary of South Africa as a republic.


In December 1966, Terence married Margot Daly, then a student and later, as Dr Margot Beard, senior lecturer in the Department of English. Last year they celebrated their golden anniversary. Terence is survived by Margot, children, James and Lucy, their spouses, and three grandchildren. 


Professor Beard: intellectual, liberal, an inspiring teacher, soldier, human rights activist, but also a man of taste and discrimination in art and music, a traveller, a fine cook and a solver and compiler of crossword puzzles.


A memorial for friends and family will be held at a later stage.

Last Modified: Wed, 17 May 2017 14:26:48 SAST