Herbert Joseph Habeeb was born in Grand Falls, New Brunswick on 11 August 1917, son of Nicholas Habeeb and Nabeeha Debs. He never married and died in April 1987 in Ojai, Ventura California, after a long and extensive academic career.
Herbert grew up in Grand Falls and attended high school in Caribou, Maine. He received his BSc. from the University of New Brunswick in Physics, Chemistry and Botany in 1938 and his Ph.D. from McGill University in Physical Chemistry 1941. He served in World War II with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1943 to 1946.