Lakewood lumber broker, councilman had ‘beautiful smile’

Staff writerApril 30, 2014 

Larry Humphrey, a prominent Lakewood lumber broker and member of the Lakewood City Council in the formative years after the city’s incorporation, died April 19 after a long decline with Parkinson’s disease. He was 79.

Humphrey’s friends and those who interacted with him in politics, business and the many civic boards he served on, remembered him first for his smile.

“It was a beautiful smile, a happy smile,” former Lakewood Mayor Claudia Thomas said. “He smiled like he was glad to see you. He just liked helping people. It made him feel good.”

Humphrey was born in 1934 in Maine but grew up and married in Rhode Island.

After many years working for the Weyerhaeuser Co. in Longview and Tacoma, he started his own wholesale lumber business, Humphrey Lumber Co., on South Tacoma Way.

He was a member of the Chicago-based North American Wholesale Lumber Association, and for a time served as the organization’s president.

Humphrey ran successfully for the Lakewood City Council in 1997, the year after the city was incorporated. During his six years in office he was a consistent advocate for business interests.

“He was a successful businessman and brought a business perspective to the table, which was good,” said Pierce County Councilman Doug Richardson, who was a member of the original Lakewood council and sat next to Humphrey on the dais.

“I don’t think there was a mean bone in his body, to tell the truth,” Richardson said.

“He was a conciliator, and he was always looking to find common ground with people.”

In 2004, after Humphrey retired from the lumber business and the City Council, he was elected to the board of directors of Northwest Commercial Bank in Lakewood.

He was a member of the Pierce Transit Board and for a time served as board president. He also served on the boards of Annie Wright School, Community Health Care and the Lakewood Historical Society.

A memorial service for Humphrey is scheduled for

4 p.m. May 25 at the Little Church on the Prairie in Lakewood. Humphrey and his wife of 57 years, Natalie Flather Humphrey, were active members of the church.

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693

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