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Photo of the Month
September 2011
See Previous Photos     Unknown Faces and Places


"To the North Pole!"  

Widely known as the "Dean of Travel" (1897-1976), Robert W. "Bert" Hemphill was an entrepreneur and tireless promoter who spent his career logging more than 1,800 air flights, 200 sailing cruises, 232 county visits and five million miles as a pioneer of luxury air travel and tourism. Here, he prepares to board a Scandinavian Airline flight to the North Pole with fellow members of the Travelers Century Club in July 1966.

The son of John Alexander and Etta May (Huston) Hemphill, and the grandson of Kansas pioneers Boyd W. and Clara (Barnhouse) Huston, Bert was born in Olathe, a suburb of Kansas City. He spent most of his adult life in Southern California, based in North Hollywood. Having founded Hemphill Travel Service and Hemphill World Cruises, Bert was considered "one of the most peripatetic and widely known travel agents in the industry." As evidence of his widespread popularity, he was pictured in Esquire magazine, and mentioned in numerous books and scores of news articles, including guest columns authored in the Los Angeles Times.

In 1954, he founded the Travelers Century Club, which exists today and graciously furnished these images. The club's membership was exclusive for those who had visited 100 countries or more, with members known as "Centurions." [ More ]


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Copyright © 2011 Mark A. Miner. Photos courtesy of the Travelers Century Club.