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From: "Roger E. Kammerer" <>
Subject: [NC-PCFR] The Amazing Life of Dr. Robert Lee Humber
Date: Sat, 10 Sep 2011 02:59:43 +0000


The Amazing Life of Dr. Robert Lee Humber





Greenville's
greatest contribution to the world was a man named Robert Lee Humber, Jr. Very
few men can claim the attainments this man reached in his lifetime. His
boundless energy, his sincere modesty and broad mind, moved governments.

Robert
Lee Humber, Jr. (1898-1970) was a native of Greenville, the son of Robert Lee
Humber and Lena Davis. He attended public school in Greenville and graduated
from the Winterville High School in 1914, completing his high school courses in
two years. He entered Wake Forest College where in four years fulfilled the
requirements for a B.A. and L.L.B. degrees and participated in college
activities. He was president of the senior class, vice-president of the YMCA,
and editor of both the college monthly magazine and weekly paper. He took an
active interest in athletics, playing left-end on the football team and
managing the baseball team.

Immediately
after graduating Cum Laude from Wake Forest in 1918, Humber attended Harvard
University where he volunteered for World War I. After training, he was
commissioned a second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery. At the conclusion of
the war in 1918, he resigned his commission and continued his studies at
Harvard, receiving a M.A. degree and serving on its faculty as a tutor in the
Department of Government, History and Economics.

In 1919 Humber was chosen as a Rhodes
Scholar from NC to Oxford University, England. During the three years tenure of
the scholarship he traveled extensively on the continent and made a trip around
the world.

In 1923,
Humber moved to Paris, where he tutored American students and continued his
independent studies. From 1926 to 1928, he was an American Field Service Fellow
to the University of Paris and Le Sorbonne and afterwards located in Paris as
an attorney and business executive. He became the European head of the
Gilcrease Oil Company, chairman of the American Church in Paris and officer of
the Paris Post of the American Legion.

In
October 1929, Humber married Lucie Berthier, an executive secretary of the American University
Union. They eventually had three children.

In June
1940, the Nazi invasion of France forced the Humber's to flee with their three
children back to America. They settled in the old Humber family home on Fifth
Street and became active members of Memorial Baptist Church.

Robert
Lee Humber then retired from business and zealously devoted all his energies to
the concept of World Peace and a World Federation. Humber wrote a pamphlet,
"The Declaration of the Federation of the World," in which he sought
to establish law as the means of maintaining world order by punishing
individuals who committed international crimes, instead of military actions
against whole countries that destroy, through war, the innocent as well as the
guilty. Humber launched his "movement" for a World Federation on
December 7, 1940 at his ancestral home on Davis Island in the Core Sound. After
preaching, writing and talking it across the State, the NC General Assembly
passed his resolution in 1941, becoming the first legislative body in history
to endorse the principles of a World Federation. Humber then traveled and
lobbied other State legislatures for the next ten years. Sixteen States adopted
his resolution and a large number of other States accepted his idea in some
modified form.

Humber
collected a nation-wide circle of friends, and he traveled extensively across
the country serving on councils and conferences for international relations. He
was very instrumental in the San Francisco Conference of 1945, which drafted
the Charter of the United Nations. He was the recipient of the World Government
News Medal (1948), the American War Dads Prize for the greatest single
contribution towards world peace (1948), and the American Freedom Association's
Peace Award (1967).

In 1943, Humber began a campaign for an art museum "of national
significance" in North Carolina. He believed "art has been and is the
barometer of human progress." He got the NC Legislature of 1947 to
appropriate a million dollars for the purchase of art on the condition it be
matched by a million dollar match from outside sources. Humber induced the
Samuel E. Kress Foundation of New York to offer one million dollars of
paintings and NC became the first State to appropriate a million dollars for
the purchase of art. Humber also got the IRS to increase the amount of money
given tax free to art organizations. The NC Museum of Art opened in Raleigh in
April 1956. He served as president of the NC Art Society, the State Art
Commission and in July 1961 was named as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of
the NC State Museum of Art. He was also very influential in the creation and
growth of the NC Symphony. Humber is also remembered for commissioning Louis
Orr, the internationally famous artist, to do 51 etchings of NC places. Humber
was also president of the NC Literary and Historical Association from 1950-51
and was an alternate delegate to Democratic National Convention from
North Carolina in 1956.

In 1958, Humber was elected to the State Senate from
Pitt County and served three consecutive terms from 1959 to 1964. The welfare
and problems of the farmer were his greatest concern. He was active on dozens
of councils, commissions and boards on a State and local level dealing with
education, highways, troubled youth, crime, law, freedom of speech, economic
planning, history and art. He was
co-founder and life-time member of the NC Bar Association, having served as
president of this group from 1961-64. In April 1962, Humber was a founder and
elected Chairman of the six-county Coastal Plain Planning and Development
Commission.

Humber
helped establish the NC Community College System. He served as Chairman of the
Board of Trustees of Wake Forest University, Meredith College and of the Pitt
Industrial Education Center/Pitt Technical Institute from 1964 until 1970. He also served as the first vice-president
and president of NC Association of Community Educational Institutions (NCEITA)
from 1968 to 1970. Humber believed that education was the "contact between the past and the
present"...that we must "educate
our children to bring security which will protect and foster the growth of our
national heritage."

Other
organizations Humber was a member of included Phi
Beta Kappa; Omicron
Delta Kappa; Phi
Delta Phi; Sigma
Phi Epsilon; United
World Federalists; American
Legion; Farm
Bureau; Rotary; American
Judicature Society; American
Academy of Political and Social Science;
and the National
Trust for Historic Preservation.

Dr. Humber's contributions to society have been
recognized on many occasions. In 1966 he received the Salmangundi Club
Citation, a national award given on rare occasions for outstanding
contributions to the cultural life of the nation. In 1968 he was awarded the
North Carolina Medal, which is the State's highest award in the field of public
service. The North Carolina Medal is given for distinguished service which
brings national and international renown upon the State.

In his
studies at home and abroad Humber developed an intense appreciation for the
lasting cultural values of truth, beauty and the meaning of life. He was a
collector of great works of art, paintings, china and books. His home became a
treasure trove of the rare and beautiful.

After
a useful life, Robert Lee Humber died suddenly from a heart attack on November
10, 1970 while he was attending a showing of "War and Peace," a film
based on Tolstoy's novel.

Humber
was former chairman of the Pitt Technical Institute Board of Trustees and on
May 6, 1973 the Robert Lee Humber Building was dedicated in his honor at Pitt
Technical Institute. Lt. Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. gave the dedication speech
and at the ceremony, a portrait of Dr. Humber and commemorative bronze plaque
were presented. The painting was unveiled by Dr. Humber's grandson, Robert Lee
Humber, III.

The following is an excerpt from the
Humber Building Dedication program, May 6, 1973: "Few men in the course of
life acquire the breadth of knowledge, the height of achievement, the depth of
human understanding and the compassion of his fellowmen as did Dr. Robert Lee
Humber. Indeed the last words written by Dr. Humber on the day of his death,
November 10, 1970, reflect the depth of his concern for the quality of life. He
wrote: 'Herein lies our dilemma: The
discrepancy between our profession and our practice, the inconsistency between
our faith and our works-- it is this chasm between human desire and human
performance which commands priority in our action. It transcends every other
consideration of our time.' As he wrote- with meaning, conviction, and
compassion so did he live."law was propo


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