See September 2021 update below.
February 2021. I sat across the table from my childhood friend and his wife last week, 25 years after I had seen them last. The Army moved them around until a recent retirement, and I was traveling in Texas for work where they live now.
Rob said, “My parents are still in Illinois.” Sitting in the restaurant, my mind skipped to some of my very first memories, as a child, sitting in a small kitchen in upstate New York with Rob’s family and mine. I see yellow wall paper and avocado green appliances. Wet snow suits. I remember laughter, always laughter.
I have scattered memories of those days–Rob’s parents would babysit, and my parents reciprocated. Rob’s dad was an avid hunter and fed me my first venison. Every time we drove by their house, we would look for the flock of wild turkeys that frequented their yard. Long hours sledding down their hill. Memories of dress-up and board games, of music, church talent shows, and Awana Olympics.
Anyone who has heard my story has heard me say, “There was a missions administrator who lived in our tiny town, and missionaries coming home on furlough came to meet him. Those missionaries often stayed with us.” That administrator was Rob’s dad, Bob. Over the years, Bob walked with my dad, then a new believer in Jesus, encouraged my parents’ involvement on a missions board, and was a good friend to our family.
I was maybe 5 or 6 years old when they moved out of New York, but Bob and Sally’s engagement with our family set the trajectory of my life. Those missionaries they brought to town gave me a taste of the world, from Taiwan to Bangladesh, from Brazil to Zaire. Kenya, Liberia, the UK, Alaska. I learned then that much of the world did not know who Jesus was, and that, to this day, is intolerable to me. Even now, the missions anthem from those days rings in my ears: “Untold millions are still untold. . .who will tell them of Jesus’ love and the heavenly mansions awaiting above?”
After finishing college, I raised support to serve in Alaska as a missionary, and when I got to the field, the letters started to come. Over the next years, Sally wrote to me regularly, encouraging my walk, telling stories of her kids and their growing families, and always ending with an plea to come visit her and Bob. A few years later, I was only too glad to do so. And that was 25 years ago.
So, here we sit in Texas, speaking of faithful parents and a faithful God, of memories past and ministry future.
Who would have guessed then the impact that Bob and Sally had on me? I was too little to really know them. And yet, without them, I would not be the same person today. What a blessing! What a challenge!
Update from Bob’s family:
Robert Audas Humphrey, 82, of Scottsdale, AZ and formerly of Rockport, IL (Pike County), went to be with his Lord and Savior on September 2, 2021 in Scottsdale, AZ. He passed quietly in his sleep at home with his family by his side after a brave battle with Alzheimer’s.
After joining the Army at 17 years old, Bob was stationed in Panama as a Military Police Officer. He served our Country for three years, and it was in Panama that he met the love of his life, Sally Reihart. In 1959, he and Sally were engaged in Chepo after a courtship of eight months. They married on September 1, 1962 in Alexandria, PA.Following his military service, Bob went to Philadelphia College of the Bible where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Ministry. He went on to complete seminary at Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Blue Bell, PA. He then earned a master’s degree from National Lewis University in Evanston, IL.
For over four decades, Bob served the Lord by pastoring churches, planting new churches, helping churches in decline, and working as a State and National Director for Conservative Baptist Association. He ended his career in ministry by founding FreshStart, an international consultant resource for churches.
Bob authored numerous articles and training manuals for pastors and others in leadership positions because he wanted to “unleash leaders in the Kingdom of Christ who will lead more like the Lord while leading more to the Lord.”In 2001, Bob and Sally moved to rural Summer Hill, IL. Bob loved hiking the hills and hollows in the country and one of his favorite pastimes was hunting. His trophy wall contains numerous deer, antelope, bear, and wildfowl.
After his retirement, Bob started his own photography business, QuickShot Photography, serving Pike County, IL. His specialty was nature and outdoor photography, but he was also the anonymous donor of Veterans Appreciation Postcards that were distributed each year in honor of veterans around the country. Additionally, he donated his time and energy to keeping the Summer Hill war memorial patriotic with flags placed around the monument each holiday.
Reverend Humphrey is survived by his wife of 59 years, Sally R. Humphrey, as well as his three children Robert (Rhonda) Humphrey of Elgin, TX; Synthia (Durrell) Miller of Pike County, IL; and Sandra (Michael) Keller of Spencerville, IN. Additionally, his grandchildren Robert D. Humphrey (Laura), David T. Humphrey, Samuel Beau Miller, Logan M. Keller, Luke M. Keller, and Landon M. Keller survive their grandfather. Bob had the pleasure of welcoming his first great grandson, Wallace Robert Humphrey, to the family in March, 2021.
In Bob’s own words, his goal in life was “That I left my small part of this big world better off than when I came. My objective was to do everything with excellence and make things better than I found them.” Our Savior welcomed Bob into eternity with, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”