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Adieu my friend, Royce Humphrey

April 12, 2011

“It is true that those we meet can change us,

sometimes so profoundly

that we are not the same afterwards…

 –Yann Martel, Life of Pi

All those stories about returning from the war, old cars, driving truck for the county.  All those tales of family holidays of years now in our past.  All those life’s lessons learned over the course of nine decades imparted to us with wit, charm and caring.

The Royce I met for the first time in late August 2000, at the Waushara County Fair, believes in doing the best job that he can every time.  Eight hours has always meant eight hours to him, though admittedly, some eight hour periods were longer than others.  Every job is a reflection on his good name and reputation.  And if you ask any one, there was, for a long time, a way in which the community depended on him to do his work just that well.  And, for all of his efforts, Geneva never let dinner be late.  If it is 5:00 p.m., then the table is set and the kids’ hands are washed.  (Some would even argue that he was, as I discovered later, “spoiled” by his wife’s diligence.)

Civic mindedness.  Doing something for others just because you have it within your power to do so.  Respecting the land, the trees and one’s surroundings.  Building a home where love abounds.  These are all things for which my friend Royce is known.

Despite the hardships of living in a part of the state with a fragile economy which does not enjoy any major industry, Royce can not envision his life any place else.  That isn’t to say that he and Geneva hadn’t kicked around a few ideas and dreams.  Travel to the far reaches of the country and back again.  Move.  Never.  An addition on the house.  When necessary.

Indeed, Royce is the type of person who makes for an ideal friend and neighbor.  I personally look to Royce for qualities I hope are still within myself, for something of which I am still capable, regardless of where I live out my life, regardless of my life’s occupation.  He is a touchstone and his existence means that these qualities of honesty and authenticity are still among us.  He is widely respected, and he deserves it.  That in short, is the Royce I am proud to have known.

Royce passed away this evening at the age of 90.  Gregory and I spent much of the day in Hancock, and talked and laughed with him prior to his passing.  Though mighty sad we left the house with a sense of peace about Royce.  We are grateful that he now also enjoys peace.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. helena clarke-froidevaux permalink
    April 12, 2011 7:44 am

    A lovely tribute. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Marion permalink
    April 12, 2011 12:56 pm

    One can never have too many friends and from each we learn. Royce was a true gentleman in all sense of the word and there is much to be learned from a true gentleman of the land. He will be so missed by Greg, his son, and by you, his friend. He is now with his loving wife and his memory will live on in his gentleman son , Greg.
    our deepest sympathy….love Mom and Dad

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