Lloyd Bean (1938-2019)

  • Always on the move: Lloyd Bean, left Bermuda in 1958 to pursue an education and became a senior executive for Xerox, the maker of photocopiers and other business machines and computers (Photograph submitted)

    Always on the move: Lloyd Bean, left Bermuda in 1958 to pursue an education and became a senior executive for Xerox, the maker of photocopiers and other business machines and computers (Photograph submitted)

A trailblazing Bermudian engineer for the Xerox Corporation, who pushed for the hiring of other black professionals, has died.

Lloyd Bean, an 80-year-old father of four, died on January 8 at home in Brighton, New York.

Mr Bean moved to the United States in 1958 to study and two years later saw a job advert for a post at Xerox, then the leader in copying and printing technology and now a global player in print and digital document services, and landed the job.

Gerard Bean, Mr Bean’s older brother and an optometrist in Bermuda, said: “Xerox was looking for diversity at that point and they asked him to come. They wanted him as a black, educated individual.”

Dr Bean said his brother was sent to give talks to black students in institutions such as Alabama’s Tuskegee University, “on how they should become educated and get into science”.

He added that his brother had been keen on maths and science at school, and that a talent for science ran in the family.

Dr Bean added Mr Bean was “adventurous and always of the move” and moved to Rochester, New York, where Xerox was founded. He married Ursula Burns, who also worked for the company, in 1988.

Ms Burns grabbed national attention in 2009 when she became chief executive at Xerox, the first black woman to head a major American company.

She also served as chairwoman of the company until 2017.

Ms Burns was elected chairwoman of Amsterdam-based telecommunications company Veon in 2017 and became CEO of the firm in 2018 after the sudden departure of the previous chief executive.

Ms Burns, in a 2017 TV interview, highlighted her husband’s decision to put his own career on the back burner to look after their children while she climbed the corporate ladder.

She told CNN Business: “You should find a great partner. Man, woman, whatever it is — you have to find a good one.”

Dr Bean added: “He was constantly with the children. Every day and every weekend he spent his time with them.”

Maxwell Burgess, a former United Bermuda Party government minister and a godson and cousin of Mr Bean’s, said he was “an engineer par excellence” with more than 40 patents registered in his name.

Mr Burgess added: “But the real story is that it was he who persuaded Xerox to engage in diversity and have a company that reflected America during its time. He took the view that he could not be the only good black scientist and he got many other black engineers jobs at Xerox.”

Mr Burgess said Mr Bean, who retired from Xerox in 2002 after 42 years, had embraced black pride, wore the traditional West African dashiki shirt to work and had Afro hair.

He said: “He believed in equality, and he fought to make sure that others equally as qualified were able to get their opportunity.

“He was a pacesetter in ensuring that other black engineers that were not getting recognised and could not find jobs were able to get work. The rest is history.”

Mr Burgess added that other companies followed Xerox’s example.

He said: “He didn’t do it for fame and fortune. He would often say that he didn’t want to be remembered for the patents he was able to amass, but as a man who cared for his family, fought for his people, and made America, the country he adopted as his home, the better for his having been there.”

Mr Burgess added: “It is timely that America today is having a major debate over immigration.

“Lloyd Bean is undoubtedly an example of the benefit of immigrants to that country.”

Update: This article was amended to make clear that LLoyd Bean married his wife Ursula Burns in 1988.

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Published Jan 23, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 23, 2019 at 11:24 am)

Lloyd Bean (1938-2019)

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