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Published: Monday, 2/17/2003

Work, religion were engineer's daily companions

Richard David Humphreys, a retired engineer who worked on municipal water and wastewater projects in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, died of melanoma at his home yesterday. He was 73.

“My father was always a numbers person who loved detail,” said his son, David. “Engineering came naturally to him.”

Born and raised in Toledo, Mr. Humphreys attended Libbey High School and what was then Toledo University. He received an engineering degree in the early 1950s.

After college, he worked briefly as a surveyor and an entry-level engineer for the Ohio Department of Transportation. He also worked as a draftsman for J.F. Anderson Co., a contracting firm.

Most of his career was spent with Finkbeiner, Pettis & Strout, Inc., where he started working in the mid-1960s. He worked on several projects for the company, including the Oregon wastewater facility, the younger Mr. Humphreys said. He retired from the firm in 1997.

“One of the last projects he worked on was a number of renovations on Front Street [in East Toledo],” the younger Mr. Humphreys said.

In 1950, Mr. Humphreys married the former Eleanor Joyce Burchett during his senior year at Toledo University. The couple became active in Gideons International, which provides Bibles to hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions.

“The reason we liked it was because we'd always wanted to be missionaries,” his wife said. “On all of our trips to go see our children or anywhere, we always took Bibles with us ... and provided them.”

Together, the couple taught Sunday school at North Cove Church of God in Toledo. The church was moved to Maumee and renamed Heritage Church of God in 1999.

Mr. Humphreys helped oversee construction of the church, his wife said.

“[Work] and church went hand and hand for him,” she said. “For many years, his engineering caused him to work 10 hours a day, but that didn't stop him.”

Surviving are his wife, Eleanor; sons, Richard and David; daughters, Charlene Joy Cerden and Yvonne Marie Akers; sister, Margaret Jane Merritt; seven grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

Visitation will be after 6 p.m. today and after 2 p.m. tomorrow at Heritage Church of God, Maumee. Services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the church. The J. Jeffrey Fretti Funeral Home handled arrangements.

The family suggests tributes to Gideons International, Hospice of Northwest Ohio, or Heritage Church of God.

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