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Teacher took active interest in her students

| Tuesday, May 1, 2001

Audrey Shaffer Humphreys had some real passions in her life.

She loved her family, her church activities and her students in the Derry Area School District.

'She just loved her students,' said Anna Cobes, her sister. 'She would keep in touch with them even after they went on to college. When they came home, they would come back and get together with her. She would still feel like they were her students. She never turned anyone away.'

Mrs. Humphreys, 83, of Derry, Westmoreland County, died Friday, April 27, 2001, in UPMC Presbyterian hospital, Oakland.

Mrs. Humphreys began her career as a seventh-grade history teacher in Derry's Third Ward Building in 1937 at the age of 19 at an annual salary of $900. She retired in 1988.

Her long tenure as a teacher was celebrated with the awarding of the Pennsylvania Golden Apple Award, which recognizes 50 years in the classroom.

Those who worked with her said Mrs. Humphreys was an example of the perfect teacher.

'Other teachers saw her as a role model,' said Linda Werner, who chairs the English Department in the Derry Area School District. 'She always brought dignity to the profession. If there is one word that I could use to describe her, it would be dignified.'

There was something else Werner remembered about Mrs. Humphreys - her penchant for wearing unique earrings.

'They were always seasonal, and they were always very fashionable,' Werner said.

Werner said Mrs. Humphreys served on several committees in the school district and was a treasure trove of information. 'She could give insight into an issue that was very valuable. She was dedicated, reliable, dependable, all the things you would look for in a person you wanted to employ.'

A prime example of her dedication may have been the day in 1997 when Mrs. Humphreys was among the Westmoreland County citizens named to the Voters Hall of Fame for casting a ballot in every election from 1946-97.

Another of Mrs. Humphreys' passions was her involvement with the church. Cobes said her sister was fond of working on crossword puzzles with a Biblical theme.

Mrs. Humphreys was a member of First United Methodist Church of Derry and its Mary and Martha Caring Classes. 'Her minister once said she knew as much about the Bible as he did,' Cobes said.

She would put this knowledge and love of religion to use in many ways. Mrs. Humphreys taught Bible classes and was involved in working with youth groups on field trips, an activity she shared with her husband on many occasions.

Her husband, John D. Humphreys, died Dec. 29, 1974. The couple didn't have any children.

Mrs. Humphreys is survived by her mother, Bertha Lantz Shaffer; two sisters, Anna Cobes and Eleanor Rupert and her husband, David; a brother, Chalmer Shaffer and his wife, Kay; four nieces, a nephew, five grandnephews and a grandniece.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. today in the First United Methodist Church, Derry. Interment will follow in Coles Cemetery, Derry.

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