ISLE OF PALMS — Former U.S. Congressman and Charleston County School Board candidate Robin Leo Beard Jr. has died. He was 67.
Beard had been in hospice care for a little over a week and passed away in his sleep at 11:04 a.m. Saturday. "He died very quietly and peacefully," his daughter Bettina Beard said.
Family and friends remembered his zeal for life and sincerity. "He was the life of the party," his daughter said. "He was just a very personable, gregarious, outgoing man. He had an amazing sense of humor and an incredibly huge heart."
Beard had been battling a malignant brain tumor since July. He made an unsuccessful run for the school board last year and found out about the tumor after he had filed for his seat.
Late in his campaign, he underwent surgery and chemotherapy treatments but continued to pursue the East Cooper seat. At the time, Beard conceded that he had a "little battle" to triumph over, but he also said he did not intend to let the illness alter his life.
Mark Hartley, who ran his campaign, said he admired Beard for his perseverance. He said Beard reached out to the lower income schools in the area and continued to find ways to provide those schools with needed resources even after he lost the school board race.
"I bet you a bunch of them have playground equipment now because of Robin Beard," Hartley said. "He was just a prince of a fella."
Former Congressman and state Sen. Arthur Ravenel Jr. ran alongside Beard in the school board election. Both served as legislators and Marines, and they attended the same church. "He leaves behind a legacy of great admiration for the United States Marine Corps, for love of family and of church, and for the community," Ravenel said.
Beard, a Republican, came to the Lowcountry after serving five terms as a Tennessee U.S. House member and as NATO secretary-general. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 1982, but lost to Sen. Jim Sasser, a Democrat. Beard was succeeded by Al Gore, the 2000 Democratic presidential candidate.
Beard was attracted to the area after having vacationed here for several years and so decided to retire here with his wife, Catherine, and three children, Robin John, Lisa Boland and Bettina.