The historian of education Professor Kevin J. Brehony passed away on Tuesday, 15 October 2013, surrounded by his loving family and friends. Kevin was Froebel Professor of Early Childhood Studies, President of the International Froebel Society, Director of the University of Roehampton’s Early Childhood Research Centre, and a member of the Froebel Research Committee. He was a renowned and rigorous scholar of Friedrich Froebel, a dedicated mentor, and beloved colleague and friend.
Kevin had an international reputation for his research on education policy, history of education, Froebel, historical sociology, progressive education and qualitative methods. His numerous publications include oft-cited chapters in edited volumes along with more than 60 articles in leading professional journals. His article ‘A new education for a new era: the contribution of the conferences of the New Education Fellowship to the disciplinary field of education 1921-1938’, published in Paedagogica Historica, is ranked that journal’s ‘most read’. Beyond his research, Kevin was well known for his dedication to his students. He mentored a number of undergraduate, masters and PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom now teach Early Childhood Studies in education departments across the country and around the world.
As well as his distinguished scholarship, Kevin played a very full and active part in the History of Education Society. Members who worked with him on the executive committee will remember his contribution to the launch of our first website. Conference delegates will remember his encyclopaedic knowledge, his sparkling papers, including a splendid keynote address on progressive education. They will remember also the fun and laughter that he brought to conference proceedings. Editors of History of Education will remember Kevin as a much valued and valuable member of the Editorial Board to the end of his life. A hard working and willing reviewer of a huge variety of papers, he delivered really incisive, helpful referee recommendations in double-quick time. Added to which he was a guest editor of two special editions in the area for which he is best known: progressive education and Froebelian contributions to early years education. Those of us who have had the privilege to know him will testify to the major contribution that he made to education history making. He will be sorely missed.
Kevin was admired by his colleagues not only for his professional accomplishments and intellectual rigour, but also for his kindness, generosity, and dedication. Many of his colleagues in the UK and abroad and numerous friends and correspondents around the globe benefitted from his advice. His many acts of selflessness will long be remembered. Professor Brehony, aged 65, is survived by his wife, Professor Rosemary Deem OBE.