The man who played a critical role in bringing industry to the Charleston area for more than 30 years after World War II and had a hand in helping to set up the state's technical college system died Thursday. He was 98.
William W. Humphreys, a graduate of the College of Charleston and Harvard Business School, started working with the newly formed Charleston Development Board as assistant director in November 1945 after serving with the Coast Guard during World War II.
Though the Development Board carried the name Charleston, it served the tri-county area.
Humphreys started his career at the former Planters Fertilizer company before taking a civilian job in the supply department at Charleston Navy Yard.
Shortly before World War II started, he was named assistant superintendent of Roper Hospital in 1939. After the war, the returned to work there briefly before going to work with the Charleston Development Board.
He was there when Bushy Park was conceptualized, planned and implemented to attract major industries to locate along the Cooper River in Berkeley County.
Humphreys became director in 1957, after the death of his predecessor, Arthur Field.
When former U.S. Sen. Ernest Hollings was governor, Humphreys was instrumental in helping to establish the state's technical college system, an educational format that is viewed by many as helping the state become industrialized and attract manufacturers to the state.
In 1966, the Charleston Development Board merged with what was then Charleston Trident Chamber of Commerce. The development board became a division under the chamber.
While he was with the Development Board, Humphreys helped land Cummins, Bosch, Alumax (now Alcoa), Amoco Chemicals (now BP-Amoco), DuPont and a long list of other industries that still do business in the Charleston area.
He retired in 1982, but continued to serve as a part-time consultant to the board.
Humphreys served on several boards and commissions in the Charleston area as well as several national industrial councils. He was a member of Charleston Rotary Club, St. Philips Episcopal Church, the former Pinehaven Sanitorium board, Charleston Museum board of directors and a director of the Southern Industrial Council and the American Industrial Council.
Just before he retired in 1982, J. Mac Holladay, then-executive vice president of the Charleston Trident Chamber of Commerce, wrote, “This community needs to understand that in his quiet, professional way, no man has had more to do with our economic prosperity than William Humphreys.”
Graveside services are planned for 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Philips Episcopal Church. Stuhr Funeral Home is in charge.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
Earlier versions of this story had an incorrect time for the graveside service.
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