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Eric Bevan – In Memoriam

I met Eric and Mary Bevan in Budapest in 1996 at an English-Speaking Union International Conference. Who would have said then that it was going to be an extraordinary friendship, an exchange of experiences, feelings, values and true human emotions based on the generosity and openness of these two extraordinary human beings who have never been afraid to embark on the unknown waters of a distant East-European culture with open minds and open hearts! And what a journey it has been!  Over two decades of discoveries and learning about worlds that we thought we knew everything about. We do know Europe and its countries very well, don’t we?

The most significant moments in my new life, as a new life started in Eastern Europe after 1989, have somehow been connected with Mary and Eric, sometimes only Eric, other times Mary, but both of them always at the end of a fax-machine (remember them?!?), of an e-mail or simply a phone with good advice or help when needed.

And now … it’s only Mary! Eric is no longer among us, except for all the things he offered us, taught us, built together with us or simply enjoyed life together with us. Death, no matter how sophisticated we are and how rationally prepared to accept it, is still one of the most traumatic events that can happen to those who are left alive. But it is also what makes us look at one’s legacy, what has been left behind, at what gave meaning to a life, and what that meaning tells us and how it possibly helps us go on when the world continues to be mad, again and again, without having learned from its past, but still hoping.

So, I will try to make sense of what I know of Eric’s life as seen and experienced by my Romanian mind. Which obviously is just a small fraction of what his life really meant. As Mary, his partner in the adventure of life for 57 years, was saying in her tribute, Eric had been a lucky man: for having lived 84 years, out of which 82 in excellent health, for having worked with extraordinary people, for having enjoyed some 20 years of retirement to do the things he and Mary wanted to do together.  And Eric had been extremely lucky also because life allowed him to be his own master through three essential elements: a good sense of humour, the ability to recognize opportunities and seize them and a strong sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. Everything wrapped up in courtesy, respect for others’ point of view and an amazing desire to help the less lucky.

My first business here in Bucharest, had been possible by a generous donation from Contexta. It was a language consultancy called BEST – Bucharest English Studies and Training set up together with Veronica Focșeneanu, my respected and admired English teacher from the seventies. BEST had been among the first private language consultancies in Bucharest and one of its main objectives was to generate funding for the ESU-Romania. Both Mary and Eric helped whenever help was needed and the fax machine constantly buzzed in their lovely house in Dorset with questions and clarifications that a new business needed constantly at the time.

The 1999 course for the House of Deputies of Romania had been a miracle and Eric the enabler. It was offered freely to selected experts of the House of Deputies, but the costs of the course had been funded by donations raised by Eric through the Salisbury and South Wilts ESU branch. No use to remember here the bureaucratic intricacies through which we had to go to make it happen. Enough to say that everybody involved in the project had been happy with the results. So happy, in fact, that the project had been awarded the ESU Hardacre Trophy in 1999 (picture below) and in Bucharest the feedback received had been extremely positive.

Eric and The Hardacre Trophy, 1999
The cover of the Report of the House of Deputies Project, 1999

The most extraordinary thing however I’ll always remember about Eric is the way he and Mary became wonderful friends and had been present in our lives in so many meaningful ways. My son discovered England with the help of Eric in 1997. Eric took him to the most wonderful place that Ionuț could have dreamt of, the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, and took him on their sailing boat at sea. He thus will for ever be alive in the mind and heart of my son who, beyond his career in the car industry, is both a speed hill climbing competitor and loves sailing so much that he’s passed the tests for a sailing permit. This tribute is about Eric but I simply can’t stop talking about the many lives he had touched with the generosity of his heart and actions.

Ionuț at sea on Eric and Mary’s boat. 1997.
The Beaulieu Motor Museum_on a 1912 London bus.

I just have to add my son’s honeymoon in Eric and Mary’s house, my daughter’s many trips to Dorset or to London and her stay at their lovely house or meetings somewhere convenient, my own visits and chats with Eric and his coaching me through so many fascinating aspects of British business culture, his highlights of Scottish traditions that he loved to keep, the haggis (which we discovered was similar to a Romanian traditional dish) and the way to address and serve it on a Burns Night, our 2006 tour of England with incredible stops at Skipton, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, the Brontë Parsonage Museum and mainly our memorable stay in Cullingworth, at what used to be an 18th century cotton mills and is now a self-catering accommodation place.

After having visited Skipton Castle, 2006.
Benton Mills, 2006.

There are so many things to remember about Eric and to be grateful for. I’ll probably need to write a whole novel about our meetings, projects and enriched lives. I’ll just add some pictures to highlight those moments. And my prayers that Eric’s sense of commitment to the things he started, from gardening and cooking, to his having fun and enjoying life, after a successful career in business and government, will guide me as well along my own new life which would have been lesser and poorer had I not met Eric and Mary on that trip to Budapest.

2017, Crafts centre pottery lessons for us.
2017, Visiting the Bevans with Radu, my grandson.

And whenever I need to stop and think of a direction in which to continue to go, Eric’s words will always be with me: “Start writing all those stories, Mariana! They are fascinating! And we, over here know so little of your lives beyond the curtain.”

In the end what else can we dream of? That we continue to be remembered after we are gone, that our life has not slipped by like a field mouse, but it did shake the grass and was meaningful to so many.






11 august – o aniversare de suflet // August 11 – An Anniversary to Treasure

Curtea de Argeș / București 11 august 2019

Domnului Alexandru Budișteanu

Doctor arhitect, Membru al Consiliului Științific al Institutului Național

pentru Studiul Totalitarismului (INST) al Academiei Române –


Dragă Alex,

M-am tot gândit ce să-ți fac cadou la aniversarea de azi. Ceva să-ți facă plăcere și să fie și semnificativ!

Să-mplinești 91 de ani este o realizare minunată, felicitări, dar să trăiești 91 de ani activi și să ai  înfăptuirile tale este o adevărată poveste de succes. Ce să-i faci cadou unui om care a trăit atât de frumos ca tine, atât de intens în același timp și cu atâtea încercări, trecând prin atâtea schimbări istorice, dar și cu atât de multe împliniri, cu momente minunate, cu momente tensionate, cu oameni care ți-au fost recunoscători, alții care te-au detestat fățiș sau, poate, doar în particular? Așa cum este viața fiecăruia dintre noi. Pot continua cu astfel de întrebări, dar adevărul este că vine o vârstă când nu mai avem nevoie de lucruri, de obiecte, când nu ne mai dorim semnificativ prea multe, dar ne dorim contacte umane cu sens, ne dorim să putem conversa cu cei de care am fost într-un fel sau altul legați în anumite momente din viață.

De asta am hotărât să-ți aduc azi ce am eu mai de preț – timpul meu. Ți-am făcut câteva prăjiturele. Sper să-ți placă. În timp ce le făceam, cu drag și mare plăcere, rememoram cunoștința noastră. Cum ai sunat la ușa biroului nostru din Negru Vodă și te-ai prezentat cu recomandarea lui Valerie Mitchell! Ce vremuri! Cum am lansat ESU-România, cum organizam concursurile naționale de Public Speaking la Parlament, cum ai devenit președinte al ESU-România, cum am fost împreună la Chișinău și Bălți, cum mi-ai făcut cunoștință cu limba relativ arhaică vorbită la Chișinău și mi-ai explicat calcurile din rusă, cum mai târziu am fost la lansarea ESU-Moldova împreună cu Lulu. Cum mi-ai spus că Lordul Watson, după ce a fost făcut DHC de Universitatea București, n-a primit roba ceremonială, și am decis amândoi că nu-l putem lăsa pe bunul Lord să aibă faimoasa lui colecție de robe descompletată. Mi-am adus aminte de multele călătorii pe care le-ai făcut să reprezinți ESU-România în atîtea locuri în lume! Tu și Ileana. După ce ai devenit Președinte Emerit, îmi povesteați amândoi cum se descurca Ela la Consiliile Internaționale. Știu sigur că a fost și pentru ea mai ușor, mai comfortabil să te aibă alături. Vă mulțumesc. Cum am făcut un tur de forță în 2008 când tu împlineai 80 de ani, iar ESU internațional 90 de ani, și am reușit să scot la timp cartea Schimbând destine, schimbăm lumea Changing Lives We Change the World.

Dragă Alex, sunt sincer foarte fericită că exiști în viața mea, în viața noastră. Tu și Ileana sunteți niște modele pe cât de minunate, pe atât de firești. Din păcate tot mai rare în lumea de azi. Am învățat foarte multe lucruri de la tine, de la voi. Și învăț în continuare. Să fii convins că este unul din cele mai frumoase complimente pe care l-am făcut vreodată cuiva din toată inima.

La mulți ani în continuare, Alex! Mi-aș dori să am ocazia să-ți spun lucruri minunate și la 100 de ani! Dar unele lucruri nu depind numai de noi. Orice zi în viitor este o mare realizare de care realmente trebuie să te bucuri așa cum ne bucurăm noi de privilegiul de a te avea în viețile noastre și de a-ți fi în preajmă!  La mulți ani, Alex!

Cu cele mai bune gânduri și cu mult drag,

Mariana Nicolae,

Professor Emerita, Ph.D. (Education & Economics)


Prof.dr. Radu Ciuceanu și Dr. Alexandru Budișteanu, Capșa, La aniversare.
Alex cu minunatul cadou pe care l-am primit fiecare dintre noi de ziua lui – articolul scris de el în Literatura și Arta nr. 28 (3853) / 18.07.2019, p. 6.
Alături de sărbătorit – Radu Ciuceanu, A.B., Ileana Budișteanu și M.N.

Curtea de Argeș / Bucharest 11 August 2019

To: Alexandru Budișteanu, 

Architect Ph.D., Member of the Scientific Council of the National Institute for the

Study of Totalitarianism (INST) of the Romanian Academy


Dear Alex,

I have been thinking what to offer you for today’s anniversary. Something you might enjoy and might also be significant!

To be 91 is an awesome achievement, congrats! However, to live 91 years fully active and to have your accomplishments is a true story of success. What to offer as a gift to a man who lived as beautifully as you did, as intensely and at the same time went through so many hardships, so many changes of history, who also knew so many fulfilments, wonderful moments, people who had been grateful, others who openly or maybe just privately hated you? As in the life of each of us. I can go on, but truth is that there comes an age when we no longer need things, objects, when we no longer need more and more, but we do need meaningful human contacts, we wish to speak with those whom we have been somehow connected to in certain moments of our lives.

This is why I decided to offer you today my most precious possession – my time. I made you some cookies. I do hope you’ll like them. While I was preparing them, with great care and love, I was thinking of our friendship. How you rang the bell to our office in street Negru Vodă and introduced yourself with Valerie Mitchell’s recommendation letter! Those were the days! How we launched ESU-Romania, how we were organizing the National Competitions of Public Speaking in the Parliament, how you became Chairman of the ESU-Romania, how we went together to Chișinău and Bălți, how you introduced me to the relatively archaic language spoken in Moldova and explained to me the linguistic transfers from Russian, how later on we went together with Lulu to the launch of ESU-Moldova. How you told me that Lord Watson, after being awarded a DHC by the University of Bucharest, was not permitted to keep the ceremonial robe and so we both decided we could not let the good Lord have his famous collection of robes without the Romanian one. I remembered your many voyages around the world to represent ESU-Romania in so many places on the globe! You and Ileana. After you had become Chairman Emeritus you used to tell me how Ela was doing in her new position at the International Council meetings. I know for sure that having you by her side made her own life easier. Thank you both. How I did my best in 2008, when you turned 80 and ESU International 90, to write and bring out in time the book Changing Lives We Change the World.

Dear Alex, I am sincerely very happy that you exist in my life, in our lives. You and Ileana are wonderfully genuine models. Unfortunately true models are fewer and fewer today. I learned so many things from you both. And I continue to learn. Rest assured that this is one of the most beautiful compliments I ever paid someone from all my heart.

Continue to have Happy Birthdays, Alex! I wish I could have the occasion to tell you lovely things when you turn 100 as well! But some things do not depend only on us. From now on any and all of your future days will be a great achievement that you have to cherish as we cherish the privilege to have you in our lives and to be around you! Happy Birthdays, Alex!

With my best thoughts and love,

Mariana Nicolae,

Professor Emerita, Ph.D. (Education & Economics)