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.