Margaret Florence Humphrey passed away peacefully on April 27, 2021 in her home in Friday Harbor, Washington at age 89. Margaret was born in Wausau, Wisconsin, on December, 11, 1931 to the late Howell Harris and Florence (McLay) Humphrey.
Margaret was the last child, joining her sister Helen who had been born 17 months earlier and three older brothers, now deceased: Robert, David, and John.
Margaret leaves behind her sister Helen and 12 nieces and nephews (and many more grand nieces and nephews): Ann Montgomery Humphrey of Haverhill, MA; John G. Humphrey (and wife, Melanie) of Winter Park, FL; Thomas H. Humphrey of Los Angeles, CA; Lynn Louise Shattuck (and husband Marty) of Park City, Utah; Jean H. Humphrey (and husband, John Donahue) of Baltimore, Maryland; David L. Humphrey (and wife, Rachel) of Portland, OR; Peter H. Humphrey of San Francisco, CA; Ann McLay Humphrey (and husband, Douglas Whitla) of Medfield, MA; Jane M. Sawyer (and husband, Steve Maas) of Friday Harbor, WA ; Florence N. Sawyer (and husband, Lewis Holston) of Winthrop, WA; Mary H. Sawyer (and husband, Anthony Yu) of Poughkeepsie, NY; and Kate A. Sawyer (and husband, Stefan Walter) of Frankfurt, Germany.
Margaret was an active member of the Presbyterian Church in every community where she lived.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Margaret embarked on a long career as an elementary teacher, the majority of her time working for the Cupertino Union School Districts near her home in Mountain View, CA. She earned her Masters of Arts degree in Education from Stanford University in June of 1968, following the advice of Mr. McClannahan, a principal and Stanford alumnus who actively supported her continued education.
Margaret loved teaching and especially enjoyed third graders. One year she allowed her students to choose the color of her next car--they chose red. Towards the end of her career in the early 1980s, her students were increasingly immigrants from Vietnam, learning English while learning to read and write. This was also a time in California when funding was dramatically cut and class sizes ballooned. Margaret worked with a talented in-class aid to support these students and their families, taking great pride in their accomplishments. Given the area’s history, we can only assume that these same students grew to become successful entrepreneurs in the burgeoning Silicon Valley tech scene.
Margaret loved to travel during the summers, including multiple trips to Mexico, Canada, South America, Africa, Southeast and East Asia, and all parts of Europe. She also maintained a travel journal, each day a new adventure capped with a favorite beverage (usually involving vodka) with friends and family.
Margaret was also an independent woman who invested wisely and made responsible financial decisions. She studied the stock market and learned all she could from friends, family, and seasoned professionals. Later in her career, she took on a part-time job at Neiman Marcus--ostensibly to earn social security credits-- but revealing her considerable talents as a saleswoman. She enjoyed interacting with the public and especially enjoying working at the luxury chocolate counter. She also took advantage of her employee discount to purchase beautiful clothes and gifts.
After retirement, she moved to Bellingham, WA in 2003 to be closer to her sister Helen. In Bellingham, she volunteered in the Assistance League’s Thrift and Gift shop, raising money to serve Whatcom County citizens and participating in Operation School Bell that provided new back-to-school clothing to children. She was active in her condo association and enjoyed pilates classes.
When she had a stroke in May 2018, she moved to Friday Harbor, WA to be closer to family. In Friday Harbor, she lived in The Village at the Harbor, a senior living community. She was extremely happy in her new home and continually expressed gratitude for the loving support and friendship from her caretakers and the Village community.
Margaret was the curator, coordinator, cheerleader, and captain of the Humphrey family. She stayed closely connected to her siblings and their families, arranging yearly visits over summers and holidays to ensure that she would be part of her nieces and nephews’ growing-up years. With each visit, she asked questions and absorbed the information. This allowed her to provide detailed reports on every family member's pursuits and interests and helped to keep the family connected.
Margaret joked that her retirement plan was to sell her condo and live with one of her nieces or nephews, rotating every month--it was a plan that could easily have worked! She valued education: Upon high school and college graduation, she allowed her nieces and nephews to choose either a hand-knit sweater (with a pattern and yarn of their choosing) or a monetary gift. In return, she asked for a dated photo of the graduate. She was a good record keeper and maintained graduation gifts for even her grand nieces and nephews, though she began to question this practice when confronted with a growing stream of graduate degrees and post-doctoral programs.
Known for her realism, practicality, and humor, Margaret enjoyed telling stories and creating family lore. With a memory like an elephant, she added flourishes and created comical moments out of everyday life and travel mishaps. We will miss Margy--her indomitable positivity; her “all-in” spirit; her call-it-like-it-is realism; and her love of friends, family, travel, and adventure.
To share memories of Margaret, please sign the online guestbook. For quick return visits bookmark this direct link: https://www.evanschapel.com/obituary/margaret-humphrey