Humphrey, a pioneering meteorologist whose travels took him to
some of the world's most remote, least hospitable places, has
given $100,000 to the Carolina Population Center.
"World population may be one of the
most serious problems facing mankind," Humphrey says.
Humphrey grew up in Memphis, Tenn. He
dropped out of college to take a job as a weather observer at
the Nashville airport. That was the beginning of an
He learned to fly, reentered college,
and graduated early from the Institute of Meteorology at the
University of Chicago. When war was declared after the 1941
attack on Pearl Harbor, Humphrey entered the Navy as an ensign
and was put to work in a variety of jobs. One was researching
ice conditions around Spitsbergen, Norway for Admiral Richard
Byrd. His most important job during the war was to analyze
meteorological data and prepare monthly updates to a widely
distributed Navy publication on radio weather aids to
navigation. Later he served in Australia, Moratai (in the
Netherlands East Indies) and the Philippines.
Later in the war, the Navy needed
typhoon data as it prepared for a possible invasion of Japan.
Humphrey was on the first airplane to fly into a developing
typhoon, east of Luzon. He made 10 typhoon reconnaissance
flights in all and received the Navy Air Medal and a Bronze Star
with "V" for valor. He then, with one coauthor,
compiled a book on typhoon reconnaissance that won an award in
1948 for the outstanding contribution to meteorology as applied
Later Humphrey would serve on the fleet
flagship at the Bikini atom bomb tests; he was meteorological
advisor on three subsequent tests. He was in charge of the U.S.
meteorological program in the Antarctic during the International
Geophysical Year, 1957-58. He reactivated the Mauna Loa
observatory on the island of Hawaii and installed a carbon
dioxide recorder there. The data collected by that device, which
is still in operation, helped trigger the alarm about global
Humphrey subsequently joined the U.S.
Public Health Service, where he applied meteorology to the study
of air pollution. This program became part of the Environmental
Protection Agency, and Humphrey transferred to North Carolina,
where he was in charge of technical assistance to city and state
air pollution control agencies throughout the United States.
Humphrey retired from the EPA and lives in Raleigh. He has
remained active as a volunteer and as a student in continuing
Humphrey is modest about his
accomplishments. "I wasn't a man to go out and look for
adventure. It just happened," he said. But clearly he
pursued challenges all his life and still relishes the mental
challenge of learning.
He believes that planning for the end of
life is very important, and his gift to the Carolina Population
Center resulted from the convergence of his own estate planning
and his concern about world population growth.
Amy Tsui, director of the Carolina
Population Center, says that Paul Humphrey's gift stands out
because of his sincerity. "His generosity will enable more
direct efforts on the part of center scholars to address his
Ginger Travis '78
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