Pat Beard, a prominent local lawyer and philanthropist for more than five decades who was passionate about state and national politics, died Saturday.

He was 88.

Friends and colleagues of Beard describe him as a brilliant lawyer who could conquer any problem.

He co-founded the law firm now known as Beard, Kultgen, Brophy, Bostwick, Dickson & Squires in 1955 with David Kultgen, and earned himself the title of “wizard” from his colleagues because of his legal prowess.

Kultgen died earlier this year at age 90.

“He was who you wanted as your lawyer if you had a big problem,” said David Dickson, Beard’s partner.

“Pat relished representing the underdog, the poor and disenfranchised,” he said. “The bigger the challenge, the more you wanted him in your corner.”

Beard was industrious and held himself and his colleagues to high standards, but could appreciate the humor in life and was quick to forgive, Dickson said.

Beard was a friend of Dickson’s father. Dickson said Beard always inspired him.

“He is the reason I wanted to become a lawyer,” Dickson said.

Beard was a World War II veteran who graduated from Baylor University in 1947 and Harvard Law School in 1950.

The firm stayed small until 2003, when he and Kultgen merged with Rick Brophy, Rick Bostwick and David Dickson. Rod Squires joined several years later, finally creating the current firm.

Beard also donated his time and money whenever needed, retired 54th District Judge George Allen said.

Allen knew Beard for more than 50 years and said Beard was always free with advice and support whenever it was needed.

Beard donated his time and legal advice to nonprofits and sat on the board of directors for the Texas Children’s Hospital in Dallas.

Beard also was a business man with interests in a school manufacturer, car dealership and eventually Central Texas banks, including ones in Waco, McGregor, West, Oglesby and Ennis.

Beard was extremely active in politics and would support those running for the Democratic ticket with either public or private support, Allen said.

He also garnered information from all his friends in the national political arena.

“When you needed to know something, he was the guy to go to,” Allen said.

Funeral arrangements are pending at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home.