- © 2006 Geological Society of South Africa
Nicolas Johannes (Nic) Beukes was born on August 25, 1945 in Harrismith, Eastern Free State where he spent his childhood. He matriculated in 1963 with distinctions in Natural Science, Accounting, and Mathematics from the local high school where his father taught for many years.
Looking back on a close friendship and professional relationship of more than five decades, it is my pleasure to share memories of our early childhood and school years in Harrismith, and of our years as colleagues starting in a very small Geology Department at the then recently established Rand Afrikaans University (RAU). Both the RAU and the Department of Geology developed into institutions of international acclaim during the thirty-six years of existence. I also refer to some of Nic’s many accomplishments as one of South Africa’s most gifted earth scientists.
Nic, from a young age, showed a keen interest in nature and a love for the outdoors, and he spent much of his youth tracking and camping in the Drakensberg Mountains near Harrismith. This boyhood activity played an important role in his ultimate decision at university to become a geologist, and also provided the basis for his love for field geology. Towards the end of our high school years we both were set on studying chemistry at university. Geology as a subject, and geologists as professional scientists, was virtually unknown in the rural Free State in the early 1960’s. However, a Science Teacher (Mike Marais) influenced Nic in Grade 12 to become a geologist, and in 1964 he registered, with a bursary he received from the Geological Survey of South Africa, for a BSc curriculum that consisted of Geology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics at the University of the Orange Free State (UOFS). Nic graduated from this university in 1966 with distinctions in …