In Memory

Donald W. Humphrey

7/16/1944 - 8/24/2018

Preceded in death by parents and brother, Harold. Survived by wife of 51 years, Barb; brother, Paul (Joann); sister, Ruth; children, Donna, Josh, and Liz (Joe); grandchildren, Jordan, MaKenzie, and Matthew; numerous other relatives and friends. Don was a math teacher at OPS for 32 years.

Donald Walter Humphrey was born in Ida Grove , Iowa on July 16, 1944 to parents, Howard & Margaret Whiteford Humphrey.

He was the 3rd born son. His 2 older brothers , Harold and Paul , were 12 and 10 when Don was born . His little sister, Ruth Lucille, is 5 years younger than Don.

The family had a farm in Iowa and Don talked about raising pigs, cattle, work horses , beans, corn, chickens, and selling eggs to bring in money for the family. In Waterbury, Nebraska , Ruth remembers him milking the cows early in the morning , and squirting the cats!!

At 13 years , he was driving the tractor and working into the late evenings , baling hay into 80 lb bundles. Everyone on the farm pitched in to help.

Don was an avid reader of books, he loved mystery stories. As a young lad , He read every book in the school library. Don and Ruth attended town schools in Iowa ,and then , a small 1- room country school in Waterbury Nebraska. They rode their horses, Scout & Champ, to school. Ruth was only 6!! And Don was 11. The horses were tied to the fences out back!! Barb always got a kick out of grandson, Jordan , who, upon listening to grandpa Don tell him about the 1 -room school house & no indoor plumbing!! Two outhouses were out behind the school! Jordan would drop his jaw to the floor & think to himself"" my grandpa is a dinosaur!!"" Grandpa Don was great at teasing & cajoling with the younger generation!!

Don, his mom , and Ruth moved to the Winnebago, Nebraska Indian reservation when Don was about 16 yrs old . His Mom was a Realty Officer involved in arranging rental of Indian land to the farmers for the BIA( Bureau of Indian Affairs) . So they settled there and the 2 kids enrolled in school. Don always joked that he was the only white boy on the football team, the biggest kid, but the slowest.! He was the strongest, from throwing all those bales of hay onto the wagon, but his Native American teammates could outrun him on the football field.

He learned a lot about Native American spirit from the Winnebago tribe and boasted about his honorary membership in their tribe.

Don graduated from Winnebago High School in 1962 and his Mother convinced him to go to Omaha to get a job & go to college. So, with $50 in his pocket, he set off to Omaha in his 1961 white Nash Rambler!!

He was very fortunate to meet Dr Wilbur Paul Burnett in Omaha. Dr Burnett was a bachelor & an optician , who lived in the Blackstone area of about 38th & Harney St. Doc had a room in a carriage house advertised for rent , and so Don rented it. The 2 men soon became fast friends. They golfed & bowled together, and spent many years helping each other through life. Don was very handy at carpentry , so he was able to fix things for Doc.

Don started working nights at Western Electric, making parts for telephones . During the day, he attended classes at Omaha University, now UNO, at 60th & Dodge St. He didn't want to waste time at work , so He would tape his math equations to the machine he worked at, so he could memorize the equations, because the job at Western Electric was so monotonous. , He made good money & paid for his tuition & education !! He graduated from Omaha University with a Bachelor of Science in Business and Education. In 1966, he was in the last graduation class to graduate from Omaha University in the old Coliseum building, for those of you old enough to remember, that building still had a DIRT floor !!!

His mother wanted him to continue his education , so he started working on his Masters Degree, which he received in 1968 . So then, he was in the first class to graduate from the newly renamed UNO. Uncle Sam wanted Don to enlist in 1968, but Omaha needed math teachers. He went to Minot, North Dakota to test for the Air Force, but a local Omaha business man urged him to pursue the math education teacher shortage in Omaha, so Don was exempted from military, during Vietnam, and began teaching math.

Don's favorite indoor activities included reading books, bowling & roller skating ! He met his lovely wife, Barb, at a roller skating rink in Omaha in 1966. Barb was in college in Lincoln, but had come to Omaha that weekend for a friend's birthday slumber party . The 6 or 7 girls in the group all skated with Don first . He was good! Spinning, dancing, etc. across the floor .Then he skated with Barb last ! It was many years later that Barb asked him, ""WHY did you pick me to marry. And he said "you were the ONLY one who was willing to skate backwards with me. And if you were willing to do that, you'd do anything for me"". Well, he was right.

They got married the next year on August 12, 1967. Barb graduated from college that same month, got married , and started teaching 4th grade in Bellevue later in August. Don was working on his master's degree and taught high school math at Omaha Rummel High School, which is now Omaha Roncalli High School.

They had no children for their first 13 years of marriage, but their hobbies included buying "lemon" houses and making "lemonade"", so to speak. Because Don loved carpentry & fixing things up, he taught Barb a lot about home improvement, and together they turned a house around and sold it for profit. Then, bought another house the next year etc.

He wasn't much into traveling & getting away, because he had nothing to get away from!! He LOVED working!! Always had a project in his mind. Always thinking of what to build next.

Both Don & Barb were teachers for many years. After 13 years of teaching & marriage, they finally started a family of their own!! 3 kids, each 22 months apart, Donna Jean in 1980, Joshua Justin in 1982, and Elizabeth Barbara in 1984. Don was SO proud of his little family! He and Barb agreed that she would stay home with the kids & he would take on a 2nd part time job with Dr Burnett , working at the Westroads, plus, do little odd carpentry jobs for other people . He made sure the kids had everything they needed, but not everything they wanted!!

Don was always much more patient with the kids than Barb . If Mom said no, then go ask Dad!!! He taught them how to think for themselves. Usually, Donna ( and sometimes Barb too) just wanted quick answers to a problem, but he would make us both think it through more thoroughly & rationalize the correct answer. Ugh!! We'd look at each other & just roll our eyes while he elaborated the reasoning involved !!

Elizabeth & Josh were more analytical and could discuss the problem in much more detail!!

He always loved puzzles & had a separate table in the family room set up just for whom ever wanted to help him with it. But,, if you walked into the room,, you had to find at least, one piece!!!  He had puzzles, little gadgets etc. In his classrooms also, for students to solve.

During their 51 years together, they lived in 9 different homes, all in Omaha. It was : buy a house, fix it up, add on, build a garage, build a shed, even design & build a whole new house, whatever he envisioned !! We did it. Neither one of us was ever in love with a house, but we loved improving them!! Friends and relatives often thought we were "nuts"---fixing a place and then leaving it a few years later.!! One friend even asked us if we were having trouble paying our bills, or are you running from the government , because we were moving so much!!  Working on projects like this kept us out of trouble and really taught the kids many life skills that come in handy today .

Don was an avid bowler and usually bowled 2 times a week. He also loved golfing, and took the kids golfing . He took all 3 teenagers, by himself, on a river rafting trip to Colorado for Donna's high school graduation trip in 1998! Barb couldn't go because she had just started working at Union Pacific and didn't have any vacation time accumulated yet. He spent time with the kids, but never hovered over them. They learned from their own mistakes.

Don retired from teaching math in 1999, after 32 years in the Omaha Public School District. He LOVED teaching, and had a Perfect Attendance Record for 25 years.

He had a great sense of humor with the students, and seemed to prefer teaching the troubled teens. He brought many of them home with him in the 1970's & 1980's to help build--something--it might have been a block wall in the backyard , or laying down concrete for a new driveway, or cutting grass & weeds in the acreage to ready the property for a new house. He felt the experience of working with their hands and creating something helped the teens develop confidence in themselves. It also showed them that Mr Humphrey trusted them , and he encouraged their efforts to succeed. Their reward was a huge roast beef steak on the grill, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, cold sodas.

I don't suppose we teachers could do all these things today quite so easily. But it's all good memories..

Don enjoyed his retirement immensely .

Everyday was Saturday!! He often wondered how he had the time to teach, because retirement kept him SO busy!!

Our rental properties were his main focus. We did not want to be "absentee landlords", so we turned the management responsibilities over to the professionals , and we did the Maintenance jobs. Don knew all of his tenants by name, and checked every other day to make sure things were working properly. Hearing his noisy diesel pick up truck coming into the parking lot , the tenants would come out to chit chat with him, or report a toilet leaking, or faucet dripping, so it always took him LONGER to get back home. The management company had it easy, because they didn't have to report much to us. Don was already there to fix whatever needed to be done! He loved it.

Thanks to our good former tenants, and great friends, we recently turned the Maintenance jobs over to Ed & Lynn. They take pride in the building and want to continue Don's efforts & devotion . What a blessing to have hard working people in our lives!!

Don was diagnosed with kidney issues last year on June 1, 2017. He eventually was placed on PD (peritoneal dialysis) in August, 2017. He did GREAT with that. Never had an infection. He also had type 2 diabetes , which would come & go, depending upon his diet & exercise.

On May 26, 2018, Memorial Day weekend, Don returned home after finishing another project when he "blacked out " on the landing into the kitchen & fell down the 12 steps, and into the basement . Hospital tests showed no major broken bones, but, to our surprise, tests did show cancer in the pancreas! What a shock.

Don kept a good attitude throughout this battle. He wasn't in much pain, but wasn't strong enough after the accident to have chemo until August 2, 2018. It was too much for his body .

Elizabeth & Joe came to Omaha to help them, and kept VERY close watch over him, spending many nights at the hospital. Many friends and relatives pitched in to support us. The grandkids, MaKenzie & Matthew, and Jordan , and of course, grand dog, Charlie, always brought smiles to his face. So thankful to all of you for your love and support.

Don was moved into Josie Harper Hospice home on Aug 9th where he received excellent care and he cajoled with the nurses . They humored him , and he gave it right back!!  Don was a generous man to many. He offered free breakfasts to all his nurses to go to AJ's cafe for his birthday. This was his favorite restaurant off 90th Fort street in Omaha. He would harvest his rhubarb during the growing season , and deliver it to the cafe for their strawberry rhubarb pies or for the waitresses to take home.

He was a member of the "10-gallon club" at the American Red Cross, and encouraged his students, and our 3 kids, to donate blood whenever the blood drives were held at the high school. He enjoyed the donuts and orange juice after donating, and of course , the conversations amongst the donors !!

Don has donated his pancreas tissue to UNMC for cancer research .

We will miss him, but we know God has prepared a place for him in Heaven. We give Glory to God , and ask for Don to be at peace. Until we meet again.

Barb Humphrey & family

VISITATION: Thursday, August 30, 6-8pm.

MEMORIAL SERVICE: Friday, August 31 at 11am. All services at Westlawn-Hillcrest.