John Edmund Slater, age 89, passed away Sunday, September 4, 2011after an extended illness. Born in 1922 in Yonkers, New York, John was a true depression-era baby. He was the only child of Margaret and John Slater, a copy-rewrite editor for the Yonkers daily newspaper. In high school John excelled in both academics and tennis and received a scholarship to the Cornell School of Engineering where he earned a degree in Electrical Engineering.
Shortly after graduation, John entered WWII as a field artillery officer and forward observer in the European Theatre with the 34th Field Artillery Battalion (9th Division) under the command of Col. William C. Westmoreland. He was at the forefront of the Allied push through Germany, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and helped in the capture of the Remagen Bridge. He was responsible for moving one of the first artillery units across the Rhine in support of infantry operations at the bridge-head. In the final days of the war, his unit helped liberate the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps. His WWII service earned him numerous decorations, citations and medals including a Bronze Star.
He began his 48-year career at McGraw-Hill in New York City in 1947 as an ad salesman for Power magazine. Over the course of his stellar career at McGraw-Hill he published more than two dozen magazines, trade papers and newsletters serving the energy, electrical, manufacturing and automotive industries. By the time he retired in July 1995, he was Senior Vice President of the Energy Information Services Group, and publisher of Power and Electrical World, as well as five other magazines, numerous newsletters, conferences, directories, books and databases. During the 1970’s, he was a pioneer in opening business talks with China establishing an early foothold for the company in that expanding market. His division held the distinction of maintaining the highest profit margin of any unit at McGraw-Hill during that time.
He maintained his passion for tennis throughout his life. He accepted an invitation to play at Wimbledon at the end of the war and was a member of the New York Racquet and Tennis Club. In 1971 he was elected president of the United States Court Tennis Association and served in that capacity until 1988, longer than any other president in the history of the association. The USCTA honored his lifelong contribution by inducting John into the International Court Tennis Hall of Fame in 2008.
He served as mayor of Cove Neck Township in the Village of Oyster Bay on Long Island, New York where he lived for 28 years.
For a man of many accomplishments, John was fond of telling everyone that his greatest accomplishment was his marriage to his beloved wife, the former Kate Broadfoot Holmes. John and Kate had dated briefly while he was stationed at Fort Bragg prior to the outbreak of the war. They reconnected over 30 years later and were married in 1977. They had a wonderful life together living in New York from 1977 until returning to Fayetteville in 2005. They traveled extensively throughout the U.S., Europe, Scandinavia and Asia on both business and pleasure. When he was not working, John enjoyed tennis with his friends, golf at the Piping Rock Club and working in the yard at his five acre estate adjoining Sagamore Hill National Park. During the summers John and Kate enjoyed frequent visits from children and grandchildren here.
As an only child, John always marveled at the size of his extended family. In addition to his wife, Kate, of the home, John is survived by three children, Nathanael G. Slater of Texas, Sarah Slater of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gifford W. Slater of Northfield, Vermont; five step children, Wendell Holmes of Missoula, Montana, Walker Holmes Haigh and John Holmes, both of Fayetteville, Charles Holmes of New York City and late Holmes of Winston-Salem; and 17 grandchildren.
A private graveside service will be held at Lafayette Cemetery followed by a memorial service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Fayetteville, North Carolina at 3:00 PM on Thursday, September 8, 2011, conducted by Reverend Robert Alves. The family will receive visitors at a reception at the Kyle House immediately following the service.
The family would like to convey special thanks to all John’s caregivers at Carolina Inn, Village Green and Liberty Hospice.
Memorials may be made to St. John’s Episcopal Church 302 Green Street, Fayetteville, NC, 28301 or the Cumberland Community Foundation, P.O. Box 2345 Fayetteville, NC 28302.