Robin Beard

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Robin Leo Beard, Jr.

United States Representative for
Tennessee's 6th congressional district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1983
Preceded by William Robert Anderson
Succeeded by Don Sundquist (redistricting)

Born August 21, 1939
Knoxville, Tennessee
Died June 16, 2007 (aged 67)
Isle of Palms, South Carolina
Resting place French Protestant Huguenot Church Cemetery
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Catherine Beard
Children Lisa Beard Boland

Bttina Louise Beard
Robin John Beard
Robin Leo and Dorothy Rochelle Damon Beard

Alma mater Montgomery Bell Academy

Vanderbilt University

Occupation Businessman
Religion French Protestant Huguenot Church in Charleston, South Carolina

Military Service
Service/branch United States Marine Corps

Marine Corps Reserve

Years of service 1962-1966
Rank First Lieutenant in Marines

Colonel in Marine Corps Reserve

Robin Leo Beard, Jr. (August 21, 1939 – June 16, 2007), was from 1973 to 1983 the conservative Republican United States Representative for Tennessee's 6th congressional district in the middle portion of his state.


Beard was born to Robin Leo Beard, Sr. (1909-1983) and the former Dorothy Rochelle Damon (1918-1996) in Knoxville in eastern Tennessee.[1] He was educated at the prestigious Montgomery Bell Academy and graduated from Vanderbilt University, both institutions located in the capital city of Nashville.[2] He was a first lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps and thereafter a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve.[2][3]

Political career

In 1970, Beard was appointed state personnel commissioner by newly-elected Republican Governor Winfield Dunn.[3] In 1972, Beard entered the GOP primary election for the reconfigured 6th congressional district,[2] which was significantly redrawn by the state legislature to be more friendly to a Republican candidate.

In November 1972, buoyed by the reelection campaign of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon, Beard unseated the Democrat U.S. Representative William Robert Anderson (born 1921), a former United States Navy commander of the Nautilus during the first underwater crossing of the North Pole in 1958. Anderson was also a stanch critic of the Vietnam War and was considered a protégé of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower presented Anderson with the Legion of Merit.[4]

Beard excelled at constituent service and held his mostly Republican district for five House terms. However, Conservative Democrats continued to dominate in state legislative seats in the district well into the 1980s. In the heavily Democrat year of 1974, Beard was not damaged by the Watergate affair, for which voters repudiated many Republican candidates who had nothing to do with the scandal. He received that year 56.6 percent of the vote. In 1976, Beard faced former U.S. Senator Ross Bass (1918-1993) who had represented the 6th district from 1955 to 1964. However, Beard easily turned back this challenge despite Jimmy Carter's victory over Gerald Ford in Tennessee. Despite his name recognition, Bass was unable to overcome the challenge of running in territory unfamiliar with him. Beard took over 74 percent of the vote in 1978, and was unopposed in 1980, when Ronald Reagan unseated Jimmy Carter.

In 1982, Beard declined to seek a sixth House term and ran successfully for the Republican nomination to oppose freshman Democratic United States Senator James Ralph "Jim" Sasser (born 1936). Beard, however, made little headway in the race against Sasser, a supporter of Georgia's Jimmy Carter. In a television advertisement that received largely unfavorable national attention, Beard depicted Sasser as soft on Fidel Castro by showing an actor dressed to look like Castro light his cigar with an American bill and retorted, "Muchas gracias, Señor Sasser."[5]

Except for the reelection of Governor Lamar Alexander in 1982, Tennessee would not win another statewide race until 1994, when they captured the governorship with Don Sundquist and both Senate seats taken by Bill Frist and Fred Thompson.

Later years

From 1984 to 1987 and again from 1992 to 1995, Beard served as a NATO deputy secretary-general in Brussels, Belgium.[1] Beard later ran an import-export business in Washington, D.C., for a time resided in the liberal stronghold of Alexandria, Virginia. Beard retired to Charleston County, South Carolina, where he later ran unsuccessfully in 2006 for a seat on the county school board.

Beard died of a brain tumor in Isle of Palms, South Carolina.[6] Beard's funeral was held at the Protestant French Huguenot Church in Charleston, South Carolina, for which he was an elder. Beard is interred at the church cemetery.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Robin Beard, Jr.. The Charleston Post and Courier (June 19, 2007). Retrieved on October 29, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 E. Thomas Wood and Ken Whitehouse (June 20, 2007). Remembering Robin Beard. The Nashville Post. Retrieved on March 12, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Robin Leo Beard Jr. (1939-2007) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed October 29, 2021.
  4. Anderson, William Robert | Tennessee Encyclopedia, accessed October 29, 2021.
  5. THE 1982 ELECTIONS: NEGATIVE ADVERTISING - The Washington Post, accessed October 29, 2021.
  6. "Former U.S. Rep. Robin Leo Beard, Jr., dies at 67," The Tennessean,June 19, 2007.