H.B. Thom was born on 3 Desember 1905 in Aliwal North, South Africa. He was a direct descendant of Dr. George Thom, one of the founders of the Scottish Presbyterian Church in South Africa. Thom started his long affiliation with Stellenbosch University as a student in 1924. He also studied abroad and returned to South Africa in 1931 after receiving his PhD. He was then appointed as lecturer in History at the Stellenbosch University Department of History. He became Professor in 1937 and would for many years enrich the lives of students through his in-depth knowledge of the subject and high standards of teaching. Prof. H.B. Thom became Rector of Stellenbosch University in 1954. During his 16 years as rector the University flourished with student numbers rising, four new faculties opening, as well new residences and academic buildings being erected. In addition to being a highly respected academic and historian, Thom was also a cultural leader and played a leading role in many South African organisations and cultural and educational institutions. Thom was the author of the publications “Die lewe van Gert Maritz” and “D.F. Malan” and was responsible for the publication of Jan van Riebeeck’s journal at the Cape under the auspices of the Van Riebeeck Society. Thom received Honorary Doctorate degrees from Stellenbosch University and the University of the Free State and was also awarded the Decoration for Meritorious Srevice by the Republic of South Africa in 1980. Prof H.B. Thom was married to Maria Johanna (Ria) du Toit since 1934. He died in November 1983, shortly after being inaugurated as Chancellor of Stellenbosch University.

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