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John Murdoch Harbert III

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John Murdoch Harbert III

Birth
Greenville, Washington County, Mississippi, USA
Death
31 Mar 1995 (aged 73)
Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama, USA
Burial
Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama, USA GPS-Latitude: 33.4877505, Longitude: -86.847604
Plot
Block 26
Memorial ID
View Source
John Murdoch Harbert III enrolled in civil engineering at Auburn University, but was drafted in 1942 just before he completed his degree. He served four years in the U.S. Army and returned to school, graduating in 1946. He became a licensed surveyor and engineer. Using winnings from dice games on his troop ship, he bought a concrete mixer and founded his own construction company, the Harbert Corporation. The firm was incorporated, with his brother, Billy LeBold Harbert (1923-2010) and two engineers, in 1949. Harbert's first major project was a five-span bridge, partly built with war surplus, in Autauga County.

In 1969, Harbert bought coal leases in Kentucky, eventually investing more than $150 million for the mining rights to 240,000 acres. In 1981, he sold his coal interests to Standard Oil. Two years later, he joined T. Boone Pickens in a failed bid to take over the Gulf Oil Corporation. In 1989, his firm partnered with AmSouth Bank to construct the AmSouth-Harbert Plaza in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

Harbert expanded and diversified into a worldwide concern with mining, pipeline development, electrical generating, land development, limestone quarrying, building, and road construction projects on five continents with 2006 assets of over $4 billion.

Harbert founded the Florida Gas Company and served on the boards of directors of American Cast Iron Pipe Company, First National Bank of Birmingham, Avondale Mills, Houston Natural Gas Corporation, Saint Joe Natural Gas Company, and the Engert Corporation. He chaired the Governor's Energy Advisory Committee from 1973 to 1977 and, in 1978, served on the State Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Harbert's charitable directorships included the vestry of Saint Mary's-on-the-Highlands Episcopal Church, the YWCA, the Birmingham Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Mineral Resources Institute advisory board, the National Coal Reserve Committee, the National Council of the Salk Institute, the trustees of the Eye Foundation, the Birmingham Art Association, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and the Royal Society of Arts in London. His memberships included the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, The Club, Inc. and the Riverchase Country Club.

In cooperation with the Equitable Life Insurance Company, Harbert helped plan and develop Riverchase.

Harbert was a noted philanthropist, with numerous contributions to projects in Alabama, particularly to Auburn, where the Harbert Engineering Center is named in his honor, and to Birmingham-Southern College, where a building bears his wife's name. A section of Interstate 459 is named for Harbert. For 14 years, he employed dozens of young people each summer to collect litter on the sides of interstates near Birmingham.

Harbert worked with Hall Thompson (1923-2010) to develop the Harbert Center, an office and meeting facility for civic clubs. He established the Harbert Writing Center at the University of Montevallo.

Some of Harbert's awards include the "Marketing Man of the Year in Alabama" (1967), the Erskine Ramsey Award (1976), an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Montevallo (1978), and recognition from various professional groups, including the Alabama Academy of Honor and the Alabama Business Hall of Fame.

Harbert is said to be one of the figures used in the composite character of Charlie Croker in Tom Wolfe's 1998 novel, A Man in Full. Croker's Georgia quail plantation closely resembles Harbert's 10,000-acre "Pinebloom".
John Murdoch Harbert III enrolled in civil engineering at Auburn University, but was drafted in 1942 just before he completed his degree. He served four years in the U.S. Army and returned to school, graduating in 1946. He became a licensed surveyor and engineer. Using winnings from dice games on his troop ship, he bought a concrete mixer and founded his own construction company, the Harbert Corporation. The firm was incorporated, with his brother, Billy LeBold Harbert (1923-2010) and two engineers, in 1949. Harbert's first major project was a five-span bridge, partly built with war surplus, in Autauga County.

In 1969, Harbert bought coal leases in Kentucky, eventually investing more than $150 million for the mining rights to 240,000 acres. In 1981, he sold his coal interests to Standard Oil. Two years later, he joined T. Boone Pickens in a failed bid to take over the Gulf Oil Corporation. In 1989, his firm partnered with AmSouth Bank to construct the AmSouth-Harbert Plaza in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

Harbert expanded and diversified into a worldwide concern with mining, pipeline development, electrical generating, land development, limestone quarrying, building, and road construction projects on five continents with 2006 assets of over $4 billion.

Harbert founded the Florida Gas Company and served on the boards of directors of American Cast Iron Pipe Company, First National Bank of Birmingham, Avondale Mills, Houston Natural Gas Corporation, Saint Joe Natural Gas Company, and the Engert Corporation. He chaired the Governor's Energy Advisory Committee from 1973 to 1977 and, in 1978, served on the State Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Harbert's charitable directorships included the vestry of Saint Mary's-on-the-Highlands Episcopal Church, the YWCA, the Birmingham Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Mineral Resources Institute advisory board, the National Coal Reserve Committee, the National Council of the Salk Institute, the trustees of the Eye Foundation, the Birmingham Art Association, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and the Royal Society of Arts in London. His memberships included the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, The Club, Inc. and the Riverchase Country Club.

In cooperation with the Equitable Life Insurance Company, Harbert helped plan and develop Riverchase.

Harbert was a noted philanthropist, with numerous contributions to projects in Alabama, particularly to Auburn, where the Harbert Engineering Center is named in his honor, and to Birmingham-Southern College, where a building bears his wife's name. A section of Interstate 459 is named for Harbert. For 14 years, he employed dozens of young people each summer to collect litter on the sides of interstates near Birmingham.

Harbert worked with Hall Thompson (1923-2010) to develop the Harbert Center, an office and meeting facility for civic clubs. He established the Harbert Writing Center at the University of Montevallo.

Some of Harbert's awards include the "Marketing Man of the Year in Alabama" (1967), the Erskine Ramsey Award (1976), an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Montevallo (1978), and recognition from various professional groups, including the Alabama Academy of Honor and the Alabama Business Hall of Fame.

Harbert is said to be one of the figures used in the composite character of Charlie Croker in Tom Wolfe's 1998 novel, A Man in Full. Croker's Georgia quail plantation closely resembles Harbert's 10,000-acre "Pinebloom".


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