Arthur's Eulogy

The address at Arthur's funeral, Wednesday 19th October 2005

We're here today to mourn, but also to honour a man whom you will have known as either loving husband, father, grand father, uncle, father-in-law, or perhaps as a good friend, colleague, mentor, editor, visionary, evangelist, or simply as 'an intellectual giant of our time' - which was a description a well known academic gave him last week.

As many of you will know, Arthur was born in 1916 in humble circumstances in the east end of London, to Masha & Philip Margolis who had left the Ukraine in the early 1900s for the promise of a better life elsewhere. In 1918 they both sadly died within a week of each other in the Spanish flu pandemic, leaving a family of five young children: Jack, Cecil, Bess, Sidney & young Arthur.

The boys went to the Jewish orphanage at Norwood, and Bess went to relatives, and the little two year old Arthur was adopted by a childless, but loving cobbler and his wife. When Arthur was ten, her husband died, but Mrs Marks continued to dote on him until she died in 1960.

Of course Arthur (or Artur as his adopted Russian mother used to call him) was very bright and worked hard and progressed through his schooling and state scholarship to the London School of Economics where he graduated with a First in 1937. Following a period as research assistant for Professor Arnold Plant, Arthur served in the British Army in North Africa and Italy, where amongst other activities he organised educational trips to the opera in Rome for his fellow officers and men after the fall of Italy.

Following the war Arthur wrote many articles embracing classical liberal economic thinking with the continuing support of Professor Arnold Plant, and became chairman of the Liberal party committee on the ageing. In 1946 he met the love of his life, Marjorie, whom he married in 1948. Marjorie had a four year old adopted son, Michael, to whom Arthur became a good Father. Two further sons were born to the couple in 1951 and 1953: Peter and Anthony.

In 1949 Arthur became an economic advisor to the brewing industry under Lord Tedder, and thence to the fledgling Institiute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in 1957 where he was to have such an impact in the UK, and worldwide, on the conventional collectivist economic thinking of the time over the following forty years and more.

But Arthur was much more than just a 'brilliant economist'. The combination of his humble background and his humanist instincts informed and shaped his thinking to the core. For all his genius he was also a profoundly wise, kind and modest man who was determined 'ordinary people' should be empowered and liberated through the choice free markets deliver, and the personal dignity they confer on individuals as customers, not mere recipients of a crude state supply machine marked "take it, or leave it" !

Arthur's innate kindness manifested itself in so many ways. He touched many people's lives as many of you here today will testify. As Editorial Director of the IEA, he took infinite care to ensure that his authors' - both famous and unknown - honed, and re-honed their writing so the message was clear and sharp, and easily understood by even lay readers. He was determined to see that his thinking - shared and expressed through his authors and his own writings - reached as wide an audience as possible.

Many confirm that Arthur also mentored and helped them recognise they had more in them than they themselves realised. They also remember his "resolute moral and intellectual integrity", his "wisdom", his "generous spirit", and "his sheer common sense".

We remember Arthur also had a good sense of humour, often manifested through that 'twinkle in his eye' - even sometimes that mischievous twinkle in his eye !

At a lunch meeting at the IEA Mrs Thatcher proclaimed in a tense moment that she couldn't possibly implement every IEA policy urged on her. Anxious to diffuse the atmosphere, Ralph Harris proposed a toast to Mrs Thatcher: Arthur was heard to say "I'll sip to that" ! He felt she still had much to do !

His close family also remember his humour with his often repeated quip to waiters that "he'd just enjoyed the best lunch he'd had today". His family also remember Arthur for the warm, wise, and loving father he was. Despite the many writing and editing pressures on him in the sixties, family holidays to Clanacombe Farm in Devon were a must, although his casual dress sense was a bit hit and miss ! The family still has a cine film of Arthur, helping Peter and Anthony build a sand castle by the water's edge, wearing dark flannels and a shirt and tie !

At weekends Arthur was often to be found playing cricket at the family house in Petts Wood despite his fixed arm, stemming from a war illness, which produced a very strange bowling action - but which still managed to get his sons out !

Throughout, Arthur was devoted to his Marjorie: his staunch and determined protector at all times. She remembers during the early years of their marriage, persuading him that his gift for writing far out weighed the drawback of his occasional stammer.

An eminent economist has written that through his work "Arthur made an immense contribution to human enlightenment". From the feedback I have from his friends, colleagues, and family, I suggest: - he made you feel a better person just for having met him.