Philip Strong Humphrey
A celebration of life service for Philip Strong Humphrey, 83, will be at 2 p.m. today at Plymouth Congregational Church. Inurnment will be in Pioneer Cemetery.
Mr. Humphrey died Friday, Nov. 13, 2009, at Brandon Woods at Alvamar.
He was born Feb. 26, 1926, in Hibbing, Minn., the son of Watts Sherman and Katharine Strong Humphrey. His family moved to Litchfield, Conn., when he was a young child and he graduated from The Forman School in Litchfield.
Mr. Humphrey served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II.
He graduated from Amherst College in 1949 and received a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in ornithology from the University of Michigan in 1955.
Mr. Humphrey was an assistant professor of ornithology and curator of birds at the Peabody Museum at Yale University from 1957 to 1962. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1960-61 to study the birds of Argentina. In 1962, he went to the Smithsonian Institution and served as curator of ornithology and then curator of vertebrate zoology until 1967. In the 1960s, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, he worked on the ecology of birds and epidemiology of arthropod-borne viruses in the rainforests around Belem, Brazil.
In 1967, he was appointed director of the Museum of Natural History and professor of zoology at Kansas University. He served in that position for 28 years until his retirement in 1995. During his tenure at the KU Natural History Museum, he started the summer programs for children that have been well attended over the years. Also while at KU, he continued to do field work in Argentina, and in 1981 he discovered a new species of steamer duck.
His publications include “The Birds of Tierra del Fuego” and various publications in the field of ornithology. He was also co-editor of “The Darwin Reader.” He was a member of the American Association of Museums, Sigma XI, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the American Ornithologists Union, and served on the boards of the National Audubon Society and the World Wildlife Fund. He was a member of Plymouth Congregational Church, Rotary Club, Douglas County Historical Society and served on several local boards.
He was an avid fly fisherman and enjoyed tying flies and making fly rods. He enjoyed many fly fishing trips to various parts of the world. He especially enjoyed fly fishing in Montana and Wyoming. He also loved playing the piano.
He married Mary Louise Countryman on Jan. 1, 1946. She survives.
Other survivors include a daughter, Margaret Humphrey, Ashland, Ore.; a son, Dr. Stephen Humphrey and wife Susan, Santa Elena, Costa Rica; two brothers, Watts S. and wife Barbara, Sarasota, Fla., and William M. and wife Ruth, Auckland, New Zealand; a sister, Dorothy Bedell and husband, Peter, Wyndmoor, Penn.; two stepsisters, Anne Swain and husband Adrian, Sarasota, Fla., and Patricia Smith and husband Wally, Pittsburgh; a stepbrother, Peter Rowley and wife Terez, New York City; three grandchildren, Katharine George, Jonathan Humphrey and Kyle Humphrey; four great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
The family suggests memorials to the Philip and Mary Louise Humphrey Scholarship Fund at the KU Endowment Association or Heart of America Hospice, sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th St., Lawrence, KS 66044.
Online condolences may be sent at warrenmcelwain.com, subject: Humphrey.