Education giant Thornton Govan Humphries, Jr. leaves legacy of community service
By Staff Writer
South Florida has lost a true pillar in the community with the recent passing of Thornton Govan Humphries, Jr. His giant stature was only matched by his passion for championing the cause of quality education for the youth of South Florida. After a lengthy illness, Humphries passed away on May 10, surrounded by his wife, children, friends and family. He was 82.
The son of Minnie and Thornton Humphries, Thorn-ton G. Humphries was born July 20, 1931, in Apalachicola, Fla. He excelled as a student athlete at Quinn High School, where he was a star basketball player before graduating as the Class of 1949 Valedictorian. Humphries enlisted in the United States Air Force where he continued playing basketball throughout the U.S. and Europe. After completing his military duties Thornton enrolled at the University of Seattle, where he played alongside NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor. The duo led their team to a birth in the NCAA Tournament’s championship round.
After completing his college studies Thornton returned to his hometown of Apalachicola, where he married his high school sweetheart Maud Olivia Woods. The couple produced three beautiful daughters: Thorna, Shawn, and Faye, a-long with a handsome son, Ste-fan. The Humphries moved to Fort Lauderdale where they raised a family and became pillars of the community and members of St. Helen’s Catholic Church.
Humphries’ long and illustrious career in education began at Deerfield Park Junior High School where he became head basketball coach and Athletic Director. He then became Chairperson of the Math Department and Dean of Students at Deerfield High School. He also held principal positions at Rickards Middle School, Deerfield High, and Everglades Middle School before re-tiring from the Broward County Public School System as its Central Area Superintendent.
Florida A & M University issued the following Resolution of Tribute:
To the life of the late Thorn-ton G. Humphries, Jr.
He will live in the hearts of the friends he made
And be known always for the Foundation he laid,
Because Goodness and Fairness never die
They go shining on like sun in the sky,
Just as Honor and Truth endure forever,
Death is powerless to destroy or to sever…
So his gallant soul has taken flight,
Into a land where there is no night,
He is not dead, he has only gone on
To a brighter, more wonderful dawn
-Helen Steiner Rice
Humphries received numerous honors including: Kappa Man of the Year 1985-86, Broward Bar Association, and Proclamation City of Deerfield Beach Leadership Award. He was also a member of the following organizations: Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Gamma Eta Chapter, Knights of Columbus, NAACP, FAU & FAMU Advisory Boards, Broward County Black Coalition, among many others.