Sherwin Landfield, 86, a retired Foreign Service officer who traveled the world for work and pleasure and who was a vocal civic activist at home, died Feb. 3 of complications of a stroke at Halquist Memorial Inpatient Center of Capital Hospice in Arlington County.
Mr. Landfield, who lived in Arlington for 36 years, was active in the Donaldson Run Civic Association and in the Citizens for the Abatement of Aircraft Noise. As a frequent spokesman for the group in the late 1980s and 1990s, he pushed officials responsible for Reagan National Airport to minimize nighttime jet noise, increase runway safety and address environmental concerns.
The anti-noise group, which represented about 70 civic organizations, twice filed federal lawsuits aimed at blocking the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's construction program at National. In the early 1990s, the group's arguments were heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mr. Landfield was described as the group's "most visible and relentless spokesman" in a 1992 Washington Post article. "The mild-mannered Landfield, 71, who lives near National Airport flight paths in North Arlington, seems an unlikely front-line combatant in the never-ending noise war," the article said. "He's a pensive man who speaks in a slow, almost professorial tone."
Mr. Landfield was born in Chicago and memorized the standard eye chart to get into the Army in 1942. When he did not make the cut for the Air Corps, which had more rigorous medical examiners, he became an antiaircraft artilleryman. For most of World War II, he served in Iceland with the 977th AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion. After his discharge from active service, he studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and traveled throughout Europe.
He attended Northwestern University before graduating from Central YMCA College in Chicago, now Roosevelt University, and receiving a master's degree in political science and public administration from the University of Chicago. He returned to Roosevelt University as an instructor and head of the audiovisual department, later working in International Harvester's adult education department.
In 1960, Mr. Landfield joined the Point Four program, a forerunner of the U.S. Agency for International Development. His first assignment was in Haiti, where he and a team of advisers created a teachers' college. He then went to Paraguay and worked on national education reform. He also helped organize the country's first national bookmobile.
He worked in Ecuador on a new teacher training system and in Bolivia, where he supervised preparation of a new national primary school curriculum.
While assigned to Washington in 1970, Mr. Landfield achieved several travel goals: traversing the Panama Canal and the Straits of Magellan and visiting every Caribbean and South American republic in between, except Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
In Washington, Mr. Landfield was initially assigned to serve as the USAID-State Department liaison to the Organization of American States and UNESCO. Later, he helped improve USAID's internal communication system. For that work, he was recognized with the agency's Meritorious Honor Award.
His final overseas assignment was to Abidjan in Ivory Coast, where he traveled throughout West Africa as USAID's regional program evaluation officer. He visited nearly every republic on the African continent before his tour was done. He retired in 1977.
For the next 25 years, he and his wife continued to fulfill their "must-visit list." In 1999, The Post ran a contest to see who in the area could produce the most visas on a single passport. Mr. Landfield's 1985-95 passport with its 51 visas far eclipsed the closest runner-up. He visited more than 100 counties as well as all 50 states.
Mr. Landfield was a member of the National Geographic Society.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Jacqueline Landfield of Arlington; two sons, Ken Landfield of Homer, Alaska, and Kerry Landfield of Pflugerville, Tex.; two sisters; and a grandson.