"Half A Century Of Coaching: The Driving Career & Carriages Of John M. Seabrook" RYDER, Tom

2001

[131] pp.

10.75" x 8.75"

The Carriage Association of America, Inc.

SEABROOK--John Martin, a New Jersey farm boy who became a corporate titan, influential sportsman, and international icon of Saville Row style, died at his home in Aiken, SC, on February 11. He was 91. Mr. Seabrook was born on April 16, 1917, in Bridgeton, NJ, the youngest of four children. His father, Charles F. Seabrook, and grandfather built a small Cumberland County farm into Seabrook Farms, one of the largest industrialized farms in the world, with interests in growing, canning and eventually freezing vegetables. Upon graduating from Princeton University in l939, he went to work at Seabrook Farms, becoming president in l954. Under his leadership, Seabrook Farms developed the boil in the pouch method of cooking its popular frozen creamed spinach, as well as pioneering frozen entrees that would become known as "TV dinners". By 1959, some 25,000 acres of South Jersey farmland were either owned or leased by the company. That same year, Mr. Seabrook had a falling out with his father, who sold the company, and Seabrook resigned. Mr. Seabrook soon regained his footing, however, becoming by the mid-1960's the chief executive of I.U. International, a utilities company headquartered in Philadelphia. Mr. Seabrook built I.U. into a global corporation with interests in energy, mining, shipping, transportation, and food products. In 1956 Mr. Seabrook married Elizabeth Ann Toomey, a newspaper reporter whom he had met earlier that year, while aboard the U.S. Constitution, en route to Grace Kelly's wedding to Prince Rainer of Monaco. Seabrook was a guest of the Kelly family; his future bride was covering the wedding for United Press International. By the early 1960's, when Esquire Magazine first named him to its Best Dressed Men in American list, Mr. Seabrook was recognized as one of the country's most stylish devotees of the British Saville Row look. To accommodate his wardrobe, he installed a revolving dry cleaner's carousel in the attic of the 18th century farmhouse in Salem, NJ where he and his family lived. Mr. Seabrook was also instrumental in reviving the sport of horse drawn "coaching" in the U.S. He often conducted business from the box seat of a road coach. Richard Fain, who as a young executive worked under Seabrook at I.U, and later became the CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, recalled, "He would be holding four reins in one hand, a coaching whip and champagne glass in the other, driving four horses through farm roads lined with vegetables, remarking on the state of the crops, while simultaneously discussing how best to finance the five new supertankers the company was getting ready to order". After retiring from I.U. in 1981, Mr. Seabrook and his wife began to spend more time in Aiken, SC, where he pursued his interest in coaching and lent his time to preserving the Hitchcock Woods, a 2,000-acre urban park in the middle of Aiken. They moved there permanently in 2000; Mrs. Seabrook died in 2005. The last great enterprise of his life was devoted to ensuring that the nearly 2000 acres he still owned in New Jersey would be preserved as farmland in perpetuity. In November, 2008, the state announced the purchase of the development rights-the largest preservation deal in New Jersey history.


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