Herbert V.F.F. Exner, medical practitioner, was the son of Ferdinand Exner and his wife Bertha, born Rosler. He passed the matriculation examination of the University of the Cape of Good Hope in Cape Town in 1910. Continuing his studies in 1912 at the South African College, Cape Town, he was awarded the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree with honours in physiology by the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1914, and the Master of Arts (MA) degree in physiology in 1916. Meanwhile he had been appointed demonstrator in anatomy at the college the previous year, as no medically qualified staff could be obtained owing to the effects of World War I (1914-1918). From 1916 he worked in the college's physiology laboratory and published a "Note on the structure of the genital organs of a true hermaphrodite" in the Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa (1918/9, Vol. 7, pp. 181-182).
Exner left for Europe in 1917 to continue his studies, qualifying at Trinity College, Dublin, as Bachelor of Medicine (MB) and Bachelor of Surgery (BCh) in 1920, and Doctor of Medicine (MD) in 1922. A few publications resulted from his medical studies: "Some observations on the functions of the suprarenal glands in white rats" in the Dublin Journal of Medical Science (1920), with a follow-up paper on the same subject in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases (1924). Around this time he also wrote "The puberty gland (Interstitial gland) and some of its functions" in the South African Medical Record, followed by an article on "Rejuvination" (Journal of the Medical Association of South Africa, 1928).
Upon his return to South Africa in about 1922 Exner settled in Brits (now in Limpopo), but in 1924 moved to Volksrust, where he remained. There his wide interests soon involved him in a variety of activities. He was an active Freemason; served on the town council for seven years, four of these as mayor of the town; and was appointed a member of the liquor licensing boards of Wakkerstroom (1928) and Volksrust (1932). His large private practice bears witness to his popularity as a doctor. At his untimely death at the age of 40 he was survived by his wife, Johanna Helena, born Carstens, with whom he had two sons and a daughter.