John Alfred Herbert
John Alfred Herbert died April 10, 2009, in Brooksville, Florida.
He was born March 7, 1938, in Quincy, Massachusetts, and prepared at Thayer Academy, in Braintree. A resident of Lowell House, he belonged to the Lampoon staff and the Hasty Pudding while at Harvard, and spent one semester studying political science in Lulea, in northern Sweden; he received his A.B. with the Class in 1960 and in 1962 obtained a master's degree from the University of Stockholm.
A journalist, he began his career during college at his hometown newspaper, the Quincy Patriot Ledger, covering general assignments and helping to pioneer the use of photocomposition, an early foray into desktop publishing.
In 1961, when a plane carrying UN secretary-general Dag Hammarskjold crashed in the Congo, the Swedish government asked him to produce background material on the secretary-general for distribution to the English-language press. This assignment led to two decades of living and working in Sweden. He interviewed many of Europe's royalty, presidents, and prime ministers, as well as, numerous times, film director Ingmar Bergman. He wrote for the Associated Press, Readers Digest, the Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, the Scandinavian Times, and the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune.
He worked for many years for SAS (Scandinavian Airlines), first designing and editing a weekly house organ, today the world's oldest corporate internal newsletter. In 1972 he founded Scanorama, the airline's monthly in-flight magazine, and during the 1980s was director of corporate communications at its headquarters in Stockholm. He spoke seven languages.
He made two attempts on the North Pole during the 1960s and '70s, the first on foot, the second by ship; a third attempt, by seaplane, was successful (though he felt it was cheating).
After retiring to Florida in 1997 he was a longtime columnist for Hernando Today. He was survived by his wife, Martha May (Grearson), whom he married in 1959; two daughters, Martha May Lillie and Tina Liljeberg; a son, Timothy, a brother, Robert; and six grandchildren.