Kathryn Humphrey, class of Champaign High School (CHS) 1941, was born in Champaign, Illinois in 1923. After she graduated from CHS, she worked as a domestic and was then employed by the City of Champaign Recreation Department. She went to schools during recess and taught them new games. She also worked with middle and high school students at the Douglass Center. Later, she worked as a Laboratory Attendant at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. She also served on the Unit 4 Board of Education and as Trustee of the Champaign Township Supervisor's Office. She has also taught Sunday School classes and is co-founder of the Gamma Upsilion Psi Society, which sponsors the annual Cotillion. She is a Charter Member of the Champaign County section of the National Council of Negro Women. In 1989, she was named "Citizen of the Month" and has been the recipient of many other awards. She passed away on January 31, 2012. She was a member of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.
Additional biographical information
From her obituary:
CHAMPAIGN – The Celebration of Life Service honoring the life of Kathryn Marie Britt Humphrey will be at 11 a.m Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, at Mt Olive Baptist Church, 808 E. Bradley Ave., Champaign.
The Rev. Ronald Baker Sr. will officiate. Entombment will be at the Mount Hope Mausoleum, Champaign. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the time of service Monday at the church.
Melker-Bluitt-Parker Mortuary, 704 N. Fourth St., Champaign, has been entrusted with services for Kathryn, who died Tuesday (Jan. 31, 2012).
Kathryn Marie Britt Humphrey was born in Champaign on Jan. 24, 1923. She was one of 10 children born to Jesse and Vinnie Britt.
Kathryn graduated from Champaign Senior High School in 1941. After graduation, she worked as a domestic. This job was not to her liking. She sought and obtained employment in the city of Champaign Recreation Department. This job required Kathryn to go to different schools teaching children games at outside recess. She also worked with the junior and senior high school students at Douglass Center. Her love of baseball left no doubt as to what game would be thoroughly taught.
In 1943, she was married to John C. Humphrey, a former airman. To this union was born a son, Juanel Edward, who resides in Flint, Mich.
Kathryn accepted Christ as her Savior at an early age and was a lifetime member of the Mount Olive Baptist Church, where her parents and grandmother, along with a few other relatives, were founders. She faithfully served her church until illness prevented her from doing so.
Kathryn belonged to the Mission Society and Mother's Board, was a member of the Board of Christian Education and taught Sunday school. She was also on the Building Fund Committee for both the new and old edifices. She would smile when admitting that she even belonged to the choir for a while.
It was no secret that Kathryn loved to attend the Baptist conventions. She used her vacations to go to the state and national conventions. She served many years as the secretary for the Youth Department in the Baptist General State Convention of Illinois.
Kathryn inspired many people to accept Christ and most of all to study the word of God. Her motto was: "Have the courage of your convictions."
Kathryn was ambitious and dared to seek a position at the University of Illinois without the credentials required. She considered it a blessing from God when she was employed by the College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Anatomy and Histology as a laboratory attendant. Later she enrolled in science classes at the university related to her job. She remained in this position until she retired in 1987 after 32 years of service.
Kathryn spent her life serving not only her church but her community. She served as a member of the Unit 4 Board of Education; as trustee of the Champaign Township supervisor's office; as secretary of the office from 1983-1990; and as a board member of the University of Illinois' Employees Credit Union from 1978-1995, serving on the credit committee and as vice chairman of the board for two years.
Other time-consuming and challenging service incuded two five-year terms with the Mass Transit District board of Champaign-Urbana. (She was the first African-American to do so.) Her name is on the cornerstone of the Mass Transit Building; in 1989, she was named "Citizen of the Month" and was been the recipient of many religious and civic awards.
Kathryn had a special love for the north side of Champaign. She was a supportive member of the Douglass Senior Center Group and the co-founder of the Gamma Upsilon Psi Society, where she initiated the idea of annual cotillions. She was a charter member of the Champaign County Section of the National Council of Negro Women.
Kathryn felt that her most rewarding experiences were having the honor of traveling with a group to join the Dr. Martin Luther King National March for Justice from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., and going to the Holy Land.
Kathryn was a generous and friendly person, making her home a home away from home for many. She had a special place in her heart for students attending the university who were away from family and in need of nurturing. Three who will never forget her kindness are Lena Roberson-Joshua, the Rev. Rosalind Shorter Henderson (goddaughter) and the Rev. Dr. Constance Shorter.
She leaves to cherish her memories her son, Juanel (Ruby); two grandsons, Juanel Edward Jr. and Troy Nigel; eight great-grandchildren; one brother, Edward; one sister-in-law, Hartene Britt; one brother-in-law, John McCaa; and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.