John E. Harbour

October 17, 2020
John E. Harbour

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John Evans Harbour was born into eternal life on October 17, 2020. John was born in Gadsden, Alabama on March 29, 1943, and for the past 20 years he was a resident of Williamsburg, Virginia. He was the eldest of two boys to John and Helen Harbour, Jr. The family moved to Williamsburg in 1955. In 1961, John graduated from James Blair High School in Williamsburg. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History from Hampden-Sydney College in 1965 and was a charter member of Sigma Nu Fraternity. Following two-and-a-half-years on active duty as an officer in in the Armor Branch of the Army, he graduated with a Master of Arts in History Museum Studies, Cooperstown, New York from the State University of New York Oneonta in 1970.

Prior to completion of college, John was employed during the summer by the National Park Service as a Park Ranger. After college graduation and prior to the Army, John was the Director of Grant’s Tomb in New York City. During John’s career he was a Director of Interpretation at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, Old Bethpage, New York (1970 – 1976); Director of Old World Wisconsin and numerous historical sites throughout the state (1976 – 1984); and Resident Director of the Mount Vernon Estate, Mount Vernon, Virginia (1984 – 1987), where he managed the administration of George Washington’s Estate. From 1987 to 2000, John worked for the Association of State Colleges and Universities, as well as the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association. He was also co-owner of Harbour Communications. In 2000, he retired to Williamsburg, Virginia.

One of John’s proudest achievements was being one of the four founding members of the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums in 1958, and while in high school he became its first Fife Sergeant and first Sergeant Major. From 1958 to 1961 his leadership was instrumental in the early growth of the Corps, which became a world class fife and drum corps and an icon of Colonial Williamsburg that exists to this day. In 2008, he participated in the Corps’ 50th anniversary and assisted in writing a history of the early years of the Corps. Using talents he acquired during his career, in 2013 John created a history exhibit for the lobby of the headquarters of the Corps in Colonial Williamsburg.

John enjoyed down-hill and cross-country skiing, motor boating, and summers at the beach in Florida with his family, as well as riding his Harley. He was an avid coin and stamp collector. John was a proud father and grandfather. In his later years, John enjoyed genealogy and researching his family history, as well as volunteering with the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums, mentoring members of the Corps.

John is survived by his daughter, Mary L. Harbour Berg and predeceased by his younger daughter, Laura E. Harbour Scott, who died in 2015 from metastatic breast cancer. He also is preceded in death by his second wife, Patricia Harbour. Survivors include Mary’s husband, W. Scott Berg, and grandchildren Mary Ashleigh Berg (16), Austin Berg (15) and Alec Berg (9); Laura’s widow, Jeremy Scott and his wife, Ashley Scott and their son Jensen Scott (18 months), and grandchildren Lauren Scott (15) and Claire Scott (13), and several great-nephews and nieces. He also is survived by his brother, Robert Harbour, and his wife, Barbara, of Morganton, NC, nephew Benjamin Harbour and his wife, Leslie, and predeceased by nephew Joseph Harbour. His former wife, Margaret Harbour, presently resides in Alexandria, Virginia.

A graveside service will be held at Cedar Grove Cemetery, 809 S Henry St, Williamsburg, VA 23185 on Friday, October 23, 2020 at 2pm. In lieu of flowers, the family is suggesting a donation to the Laura Harbour Scott Foundation ( or Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (


Friday, October 23, 2020
2:00 PM

Cedar Grove Cemetery - Directions
809 S. Henry Street
Williamsburg, VA 23185

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  • October 19, 2020
    Maynard Benjamin says:
    It is hard to believe that John Harbor has passed away. We enjoyed many years of friendship and he was a man that you looked up to. We all called him Evans and later John when he became so famous. He was a historian of the Fifes and Drums of Williamsburg and the first leader of the Corps. He helped memorialize our history and helped many of us along the way as we grew. John was one of those that came into and out of your life and he influenced all of us. He will be missed.

  • October 19, 2020
    Maynard Benjamin says:
    I just wanted to correct that it is John E. Harbour. His mother was my High School English teacher and she would never have forgiven me if I got it wrong.

  • October 20, 2020
    Trudie Pitkin says:
    I have lost a wonderful friend. My heart is with all of you at this very difficult time

  • October 21, 2020
    Lewis "Lou" Osborne says:
    My prayers and thoughts are extended to the Harbour family. I grew up with John's brother Robert and our families were part of Williamsburg history. I always heard wonderful things from Robert about his brother. May our Lord Jesus Christ look over John and his family.

  • October 21, 2020
    Norma and Tom Roberts says:
    John was an interesting man! His family was important to him and he made the effort to travel and be with them for each special event and holiday . We were fortunate to be able to spend many of these holiday dinners with John and his family . He always had a story to tell and an opinion to share ! He will be missed . Our prayers are with his family as they celebrate his life .