Mr. Thomas A. Humphrey, 80, passed away Saturday, January 17, 2015 at Carol Woods Retirement Community. He was born in Hamilton Co, OH, son of the late Naylor Bryan Humphrey and the late Evelyn Edna Schwant Humphrey. He grew up and cherished his years in Fort Mitchell, KY, and always regretted that his mother had to cross the river to give birth to her only child. Mr. Humphrey retired from IBM in 1993 as Manager of Operations Research, a field he pioneered.
An intrepid explorer and thinker, Thomas traveled the world both with work and personal EarthWatch trips, including, but in no way limited to, studying birds deep in the Amazon Forest, doing archeological digs in Swaziland, and tracking echidnas in Australia. His deep passion for the preservation of the natural world and dismay at modern man’s lack of stewardship fueled “dissertations” entitled ManKing and Lemmings.
He raised his daughters to be fiercely independent, ran marathons including the Midnight Sun Run north of the Arctic Circle and nurtured a wicked, warm and generous sense of humor. Few people know that he alone was responsible, early in his career, for saving the lives of NASA astronauts by preventing a flawed Gemini launch.
He gave generously of his time and energy by participating in the Durham Savoyards, answering phones for Hassle House and WUNC pledge drives, clearing paths on Mt. Ranier, and supporting his wife Pat’s dedication to chimpanzee orphans, Jonathan and Ruby, at the NC Zoo.
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Mr. Humphrey is survived by his wife, Patricia Humphrey; daughters, Leslie Mason (Gary); Sharon Janette Ivy (James); former wife, Adrienne Janet Humphrey; and granddaughter, Shannon Janette Hochman.
A private memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the North Carolina Zoo, 4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, NC 27205 and/or the Eno River Association, 4404 Guess Road, Durham, NC 27712.
The family is being assisted by Clements Funeral Service, Inc., in Durham, N.C. Online condolences may be made at www.clementsfuneralservice.com