Alabama Academy of Honor


John Murdoch Harbert III

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1980.



John Murdoch Harbert III, engineer, businessman, and civic leader, was born July 19, 1921, in Greenville, Mississippi. The son of John Murdoch Harbert and Mae Schooling Harbert, he received a B.S. degree in civil engineering in 1946 from Auburn University. He was a licensed Professional Engineer and Land Surveyor in the State of Alabama.

Mr. Harbert served in the U.S. Army (Infantry) from 1942 to 1946. In 1949, he founded the Harbert Corporation and was Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board. Under his direction, Harebert Construction Corporation operations now include coal mining, limestone quarrying, river barge transportation, land development, a pipeline in Angola, and a water pipeline in Abu Dhabi on the Persian Gulf. Mr. Harbert also founded the Florida Gas Company, Winter Park, Florida, and served as a director until 1976. In addition, he was a director of the following: American Cast Iron Pipe Company, Birmingham; The First National Bank of Birmingham; Avondale Mills, Sylacauga; Houston Natural Gas Corporation, Houston, Texas; Saint Joe Natural Gas Company, Port Saint Joe, Florida; Engert Corporation, Huntsville. He was a recent developer of Riverchase, a joint venture with Equitable Life, which encompasses a community planned with environmental protection in mind.

Mr. Harbert served as chairman of the Governor's Energy Advisory Committee from 1973 to 1977. He was a member and chairman of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board since 1978.

He was a Vestryman of Saint Mary's on the Highlands Episcopal Church, a director of the Young Women's Christian Association, served on the Executive Committee of the Birmingham Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, belongs to the Advisory Group of the Mineral Resources Institute, and was a committee member of the National Coal Reserve Committee. Mr. Harbert was a member of the National Council of The Salk Institute, San Diego, a trustee of the Eye Foundation, the Birmingham Art Association, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, London. In addition, he belonged to the Rotary Club of Birmingham, the Board of Governors of The Club, Inc., and the Board of the Riverchase Country Club.

Mr. Harbert has had the following articles published in pamphlet form: "Making the Most of What You've Got and Having Fun Doing It," presented to the School of Engineering at the University of South Alabama in Birmingham in 1976 for National Engineers week;"The Individual: Industry's Greatest Asset;" and "From Boarding House to Board Room - And Lessons I Learned Along the Way," presented as Executive-in-Residence at the University of South Alabama in Mobile.

Honors which he received included Marketing Man of the Year in Alabama in 1967, Construction Writers' Association recipient of the first Silver Hard Hat Award in 1969, Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1975, Outstanding engineering Alumni Award from Auburn University in 1975, Citizen of the Year Award by the Women's Committee of 100 for Birmingham and the Erskine Ramsey Award in 1976, first Executive-in-residence at the University of South Alabama, Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Montevallo in 1978, and the Holly Mitchell Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1979.

Mr. Harbert's hobbies were hunting, fishing, raising trout, and Bonsai. He was married to the former Marguerite Jones and they had three children - John Murdoch, IV, Raymond, and Marguerite. He is now deceased.