Special to South Florida Times
WEST PALM BEACH — A noted Harvard University professor whose hometown roots spring from Palm Beach County was recently honored by European royalty.
S. Allen Counter was appointed “Knight of the Order of the Polar Star First Class” by Carl XVI Gustaf, king of Sweden.
Counter was recognized and honored for his diplomatic service and more than two decades of collaboration with medical scientists at the Karolinska Nobel Institute in Stockholm.
The order of chivalry was created by King Frederick I of Sweden in 1748, according to the Harvard Gazette.
“I think I’ve contributed most by creating an exchange of educational and research opportunities between American and Swedish scientists and medical students,” said Counter, who has served as consul-general for Sweden in Boston and New England since 2004 and he is fluent in Swedish. He has worked with scientists and students at the Karolinska Nobel Institute for the past 25 years.
His work at the Swedish consulate includes assisting people who have lost their passports and with other governmental issues, he said.
Counter is a well-traveled and well-respected neuroscientist and explorer who lived briefly in Boynton Beach, then moved to West Palm Beach, where he spent most of his formative years.
He graduated in 1972 from the now defunct Roosevelt High School, then a segregated school in West Palm Beach, under the tutelage of now retired educator and historian Ineria Hudnell. He describes her as “one of the finest teachers a student could have. She was an inspiration to thousands of students at Roosevelt High School and other schools throughout Palm Beach County,” he said in an earlier interview with South Florida Times.
Educators such as Boynton Beach Elementary teacher Ezell Hester also helped guide him by instilling both strong fundamentals of education and excellent values of life, Counter said.
He completed his post-graduate studies in neurobiology at Harvard and is currently director of the Harvard Foundation of Harvard University.
His mother, the late Ann Daniels Counter, lived in West Palm Beach and attended Tabernacle Missionary Baptist, 801 Eight Street, which he still visits whenever he is in town.
Pastor Gerald D. Kisner of Tabernacle Baptist is one of his longtime mentors.
Counter’s late father, Samuel Allen Counter Sr., was a World War II veteran who received a citation of merit for outstanding service in the war. Counter thinks his father may have died from injuries sustained during the war but that was never verified.
He credits much of his success to his family, which also includes his three daughters and grandmother, Eddie Lee Pettis, who lived to be 105. He still refers to her as his “spiritual and intellectual” guide.
Counter made history in 1986 when he discovered that early American explorers Matthew Henson, a black man, and Rear Admiral Robert Peary had fathered children with Eskimos during an expedition to the North Pole.
The descendants of Henson were the first known black Eskimos at that time.
With numerous honors, accolades and awards, Counter said one of his greatest achievements was bridging two distinctly different cultures.
“Over the years I have been collaborating with scientists at the Karolinska Nobel Institute in Stockholm, creating opportunities for exchange with American students, scholars and scientists.”
Kyoto Walker may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org