Beowulf A. Cooper
1917 - 1982
Beowulf 'Beo' Cooper.
The fore-runner of the AES, the Entomological Exchange and Correspondence Club was started in August 1935 by the late L. R. Tesch. Intended as a small intimate circle, it proved more successful than expected and by 1937, with some 60 members, had become too unwieldy for the Founder to manage. Fortunately, a schoolboy at University College School, Beowulf Alfred Cooper ('Beo') and his friend, A. N. Brangham, two of the original members, volunteered to take over. The change was dramatic. The Constitution was revised, a working committee enrolled and the Club expanded rapidly.
The Second World War was a challenge and triumph for Beo. In spite of later transferring to Leeds University, he recruited older members in London to carry out the day to day business, he overcame the constant financial worries, wrote the war-time news-sheets almost single-handed and, amazingly, found time and resources to produce new publications. By October 1945, the AES publications offered were:-
- A monthly printed Bulletin
- Eight Journals including the 160 page Hymenopterist's Handbook which is still in demand and the Silkmoth Rearer's Handbook which, revised and enlarged in 1956, became one of the Society's most successful publications
- Various Pamphlets including a Label List of British Lepidoptera with the English names were revised. Eight leaflets written by Beo and other leading experts on basic entomological topics.
In 1946 the Annual Exhibition was re-started, the name of the Society registered under the present title and two Editors elected to deal with the now monthly Bulletin. Beo continued to act as Publications Editor but with increasing family and business ties, gradually transferred his duties to a successor. He remained an ordinary member of Council until 1955 in an advisory capacity and then resigned to give more time to his new projects. Though a Life Member of the Society, he had never been President, an Honorary position filled annually by distinguished Entomologists. However, in 1976, our Annual Exhibition was held at University College School, Hampstead. So, on 2nd October 1976, Beo, as President of the AES, took the chair in the Hall he had trod as a young schoolboy some 50 years previously.
Beo was an agricultural researcher and advisor with the Mininstry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (later ADAS), at Shardlow, based in the Entomology Dept. His main private activity was honeybees, around which the family's life revolved. With others, he founded VBBA, the Village Bee Breeders Association, which went on to become BIBBA, British Isles Bee Breeders Association.
All in all he was probably one of our most important members to whom the society owes a great deal.
Based on information generously provided by his sister Kathleen D.B. Cooper (1919-2009); Beo's daughter, Katharine Cooper; and an obituary written by R. D. Hilliard and appearing in the November 1982 issue of the AES Bulletin (p156-158).