Philip S. Humphrey ’49 died November 13, 2009.
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Phil entered Amherst in the Summer of 1943 after graduating from the Forman School in Litchfield, Conn. He left at the end of his first semester as a sophomore and spent part of the Summer of 1944 in Reno, Nev., and the rest of it at the A Bar A Ranch in Wyoming, where he met Mary Lou Countryman, his future wife. Phil then went into the U.S. Army Air Force, spending the next three years in service at various bases in the U.S. as well as marring Mary Lou. He returned to Amherst in time for the spring semester in 1947 and graduated with us in June 1949.

            Phil immediately entered the University of Michigan to pursue a graduate degree in ornithology, a subject he had been interested since childhood. As a mater of fact, that interest was what led him to Amherst. Although his father wished him to attend MIT and become a chemical engineer, when Phil did not respond to that calling with enthusiasm, his father relented and sent him to the American Museum of Natural History, where he met Dr. Ernst Mayr. Dr. Mayr advised him to get a strong background in biology and should go to Princeton or Amherst. Since his father attended Princeton, they tried there first. They had no room at the time, so Phil called Amherst and was accepted.

            He received his Ph.D. in June 1955. Phil went on to an outstanding career in his field, published numerous books and articles in the field of ornithology, as well as extensive field work in Argentina and Brazil.

            Since retiring in June 1995, Phil became an avid fly fisherman, enjoying tying fillies and making fly rods. His other passion was playing the piano. He and Mary Lou resided those many years in Lawrence, Kansas.

            Please go to the college website ( and click on the In Memory button to view a more detailed account of Phil’s life.

—Sidney Barteau ’49