Obituary: Lou Bedocs

Lou Bedocs, the legendary and influential lighting expert with a career spanning half a century, has died. Here Peter Thorns of Thorn Lighting remembers a ‘gentleman expert’.

Lou Bedocs, or Lajos, as he was really named, was born in March 1942 in Körmend, a Hungarian town near the Austrian border. Up until 1956 his life was normal, starting school, achieving his General Education Certificate and in August 1956 starting Grammar School, if only for a very short time.

Even at this early age Lou was exhibiting his natural curiosity and had discovered how to cross the minefield at the Austro-Hungarian border.

After the failed Hungarian uprising he used this knowledge to guide people across the border into Austria, and it was while he was on the Austrian side of the border in October 1956 that the border was finally closed and he became stuck.

For many people this would be devastating but Lou approached it with the positive attitude he kept throughout his life.

He landed in England, finished his schooling at Malvern Chase Secondary School, was unofficially adopted by the Roberts family who became his much loved Welsh Family, and after a brief time working for the YMCA, first as an assistant cook and then an interpreter, he found his professional home with Thorn Electrical Industries, firstly in the Ferguson Radio Factory and then in 1962 with Atlas Lighting where he made lighting his home.

His many achievements within Thorn include building the first calorimeter in the UK in 1967 (nicknamed Gypsy Moth), developing the largest luminaire in the world in 1968 (for illuminating maps for flight simulators), developing the first HID uplight for offices, developing the 2D lamp, developing the SENSA intelligent luminance, and the list goes on.

When Lou finally retired he had spent 60 years working for Thorn, an incredible achievement.

But Lou was not just a company man. His achievements in the wider field of lighting were even more impressive than those inside Thorn.

He has worked in ISO, CEN, BSI, CIE, CELMA/LightingEurope, , CIBSE, SLL, Lux-Europa and of course LIF/LIA where he was the Honorary Lifetime President of LIF, a title he was very proud of and given in recognition of his technical leadership within LIF. He presented a paper at the first ever Lux-Europa conference, received the IHVE Barker Silver Medal in 1971, the IES Leon Gaster Medal in 1975 and again in 1990, the SLL Lighting Award in 2008, the CIBSE Gold Medal in 2017 and was presented with the BSI International Standards Maker award for his inspiring leadership in European Standardisation in 2017. He chaired the committees that published CIE 97:1992 and 2005, CIE 190 and SLL LG12, was convenor for the CEN working group that produced EN 15193-1 and CEN/TR 15193-2, and made major contributions to EN 12464-1, EN 12464-2, ISO 8995 and many other standards and documents.

Much as Lou will be sadly missed his legacy lives on in all the apprentices and colleagues he inspired with his breadth of knowledge, humanity and infectious enthusiasm, and with his wife, two children and seven grandchildren who are in our thoughts at this time.

Comments 10

Having worked with Lou Bedocs as the designer of the Thorn 2D lamp during my time at Thorn Lighting in the 1970s, I remember him as the most approachable person and open to creative ideas, which enabled the 2D lamp to become the great commercial success that it became. John Chapman MCSD FRSA

Despite all his abilities and achievements, he was one of the most modest, approachable and nicest people, I have ever met. No matter how busy he was, he always had time for you.

Thanks for posting the obituary about Lou. Seems so difficult to accept that I would be reading one about this man. I learnt so much from him as a trainee lighting design engineer at Thorn Lighting. I loved his passion but more so his technical accuracy without looking down at people wanting to learn. I recall he was at the forefront of emergency lighting in the UK as detailed by BS5266, just as the European standards were coming in. I followed his approach and went to one of his CIBSE courses and then became an expert myself as the European standard was adopted in the UK. Looking back I adopted his style; the need to be technically accurate but yet human. In my last years at Thorn I remember the last time I met Lou. It was at the Thorn Spennymoor factory. By that time he had his office at the very front of the main entrance. I cannot recall what question I asked him, but I recalled he got up and was walking up and down getting things for me. I tried to stop him going out of his way but he insisted. That was Lou. I stood there as his white lab coat flashed before me as he went to the left, then the right. He had time for me and I appreciated that so much. I am thankful that I met the greats of lighting like Lou.

A total gentleman, and an absolute pleasure to work with.

I first fell under the “Bedocs spell” in 1970 when he took over the environmental department in Thorn Lighting. In 1998 he agreed to become the Chairman of my LIF Technical Board and we enjoyed a great partnership for over 12 years. Lou was passionate, humane and a great friend. He will be missed by so many who came under his spell.

I knew Lou Bedocs since I left Philips and started as Independent Lighting Design Consultant from 1986. Lou Bedocs was a great Educator too and made several presentations during his visits to India. . He was through gentlemen with smiling face and very humorous too. Will be missed by all. May God rest his soul in peace and give his family the strength to bare the loss.

I am so sad to learn that Lou has gone. Having known him for a long time I am sure he will quickly find a way to enlight the Heaven.

I went to work for Thorn lighting in the Lighting Development Group (LDG) in 1970 and worked with Lou on some of the pioneering projects happening at that time. He inspired me to go to college and learn about lighting which has dominated a successful career for 48 years. It has been a pleasure to know Lou in the workplace and as a friend. My thoughts go out to Lou's family.

Very sad news indeed. I had the pleasure to serve on The LIF Technical Board with Lou, he was THE Lighting Industry "go to". A lovely chap & inspiration to us all he'll be sadly missed. A true #LightingLegend

It has been an honor to have known Lou Bedocs during the last decades, a wonderful gift in life to have actually worked with him, will cherish the learning he gave to us all and a very proud legacy for his family to hold dear

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