Thomas Bentley Edwards
Professor of Education, Emeritus
1906 – 2004
Professor Emeritus T. Bentley Edwards passed away on April 13, 2004. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley, for 20 years. He wrote a key report in the mid-1960s that contributed to the desegregation of Berkeley public schools.
Born in Birmingham, England, on December 18, 1906, Professor Edwards spent his elementary school years in Essex in the United Kingdom. When his family moved to British Columbia, he attended secondary schools there. His first work in the field of education was as a teacher in a one-room elementary school in Canada from 1925 to 1927. He later taught chemistry at the high school and at the college level.
When he emigrated with his own family to the United States in 1946 to attend graduate school, he arrived in an unusual manner: sailing a 32-foot ketch to Berkeley. His family lived on the boat while he did his doctoral work in education at Cal. Edwards had a lifelong love of sailing.
After teaching at St. Mary’s College of California and California State University, Chico, Professor Edwards joined the Berkeley faculty in 1953. He continued to teach at Berkeley until his retirement 20 years later, except for a year as a visiting professor at the University of Baghdad (1965-66). At Berkeley, he chaired over 15 thesis committees and taught a variety of courses, many of them in the field of secondary education curriculum, his specialty.
“Bentley Edwards was a caring person who always credited me when I was his research assistant as a credential student,” recalled Professor Emeritus Alan B. Wilson. “We worked together on one of the first grants ever given by the National Institute of Mental Health.”
Edwards also directed Wilson’s thesis research, and their collaboration resulted in a report in the mid-1960s to the Berkeley Unified School District on the negative effects of segregation. “That report played an important role in the district’s decision to desegregate,” said Wilson. “Berkeley was one of the progenitors of integration.”
Professor Emeritus Lawrence Lowery remarked that “Bentley Edwards was a great mentor to me when I was starting my teaching career. He was easily approachable, a good listener, and wise in his responses. He’d follow what I’d say rather than trying to direct me in his own path.”
Edwards is survived by his two children, Diane Edwards Gass (and her husband R. Connor Gass) of El Cerrito, and T. David Edwards (and his wife Elena Edwards) of Alameda. He had five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
P. David Pearson