Teacher, folklorist, gardener, bicycle enthusiast
Former Claremont resident Theodore Carl “Ted”
Humphrey died from complications of adult onset hydrocephalus
on April 16, 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
His wife, Catherine Carr Beitler Humphrey, and one
daughter, Sarabeth Puusemp, were at his side.
Born at home in Red Rock, Oklahoma on July 29,
1938 to Carl and Jewel Humphrey, he grew up in the
farming community of Morrison, Oklahoma and
earned his bachelor’s degree in English in 1960 at
Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. He then attended
graduate school at the University of Arkansas
in Fayetteville where he met and married Linda “Lin”
After obtaining his master’s degree in 1962 and following
teaching stints at the University of Cincinnati
and Central Missouri State, Mr. Humphrey and his
family moved to southern California in 1968. He secured
a tenured teaching position at Cal Poly Pomona
and was awarded his PhD from the University of
Arkansas in 1972. At Cal Poly, he established the local
chapter of the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau
Delta, and remained the organization’s enthusiastic
sponsor for years. For more than 30 years, Mr.
Humphrey taught English and folklore at Cal Poly before
retiring as professor emeritus in 2003.
Upon moving to Claremont in 1969, Mr. Humphrey
and his wife, Lin Humphrey, and their 2 children, Merritt
and Carter, joined the Monte Vista Unitarian Universalist
Congregation in Montclair, where they remained
active for many years.
In Claremont, he and Ms. Humphrey created a tradition
they called “Soup Night,” a weekly gathering of
friends to enjoy homemade soup, bread and wine.
Loved and appreciated by many, “Soup Night” continued
until 1990. As a result, in 1988 they were inspired
to write a book titled We Gather Together
Food and Festival in American Life. Subsequently,
the Humphreys were interviewed on the CBS television
Throughout most of his life, Mr. Humphrey maintained
vigorous enthusiasm and interest, “often verging
on obsession,” said his daughter, Merritt Humphrey,
in a number of hobbies, including bicycling, hiking,
photography, bird watching, geology, pottery, guitar,
gardening, folklore, pecan farming, writing, literature,
teaching and singing.
“He was the definition of a Renaissance man,” his
daughter continued, “passionate about virtually everything.”
In 1980, having become wildly infatuated with bicycling,
he took his family to Great Britain where they
spent 9 weeks cycling throughout England and Scotland.
He was also a builder of hot tubs, ponds and waterfalls
and had a compulsive habit of modifying
garages to create office space.
Mr. Humphrey was a founding member of the
United Professors of California union, a teamster-affiliated
education union through which he met the men
who remained his closest and dearest friends: David
Levering, David Lord and Tom Blackburn.
Following his marriage to Catherine Carr Beitler,
Mr. Humphrey converted to The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In the Mormon Church,
he found a supportive, faith-based community much
like the farming community of his childhood and discovered
a deep and profound faith in God and a love
of singing. He remained a devoted Mormon for the remainder
of his life.
For several years, he sang in the Southern California
Mormon Choir and served as editor for The Latter-Day
Trumpet, which was published in Alta Loma. He and
Mrs. Humphrey made their home in Rancho Cucamonga
before falling in love with West Lafayette, Indiana
and moving there. Eventually, they moved to
Salt Lake City, Utah to be closer to Mrs. Humphrey’s
family as the end of Mr. Humphrey’s life approached.
Mr. Humphrey is survived by his wife, Catherine
Carr Beitler Humphrey of Salt Lake City, Utah; his
daughter, Merritt Humphrey of Claremont; his son and
daughter-in-law, Carter and Meg Humphrey of
Pomona; his daughter and son-in-law, Sarabeth and
Ephraim Puusemp of Alta Dena; his granddaughter,
Jocelyn Tuchon of Claremont; his grandson, Quinn
Puusemp of Altadena; his brother and sister-in-law,
Michael Houston Humphrey and Billie Jo Humphrey
of Harrington, Delaware; his former wife, Lin
Humphrey of Claremont; his cousin, Eddetta Beier
Grant and her husband, Chris, of Sand Springs, Oklahoma;
his stepchildren, Juliet Beitler Guilott, Rachel
Beitler Allen, Brigham Beitler, Brenda Beitler Bowen
and Linda Marie Beitler, all of Utah; and by many
more extended family members. He was predeceased
by his parents, Carl Monroe Humphrey and Jewel Lucille
Scoles Humphrey; and by his brother, Christopher
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday,
May 26, 2012 at the Claremont Friends Meeting
House, 727 Harrison Ave., Claremont.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made
to a charity of choice.