Obituary: Anne R. Humphreys / CMU professor who bravely fought cancer
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For nearly a decade, Anne R. Humphreys valiantly battled cancer but never let it get in the way of her tireless devotion to family, college teaching, hobbies and helping others.
Ms. Humphreys was a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center.
An accomplished marathoner and ultra-marathoner, she competed in two 12-hour races and one 50-kilometer race after her first bout with breast cancer.
An avid gardener and antique collector, she led or participated in numerous patient support groups for UPMC and headed up Carnegie Mellon's internal organization devoted to members of the university who had been touched by cancer.
In sum, Ms. Humphreys, of Upper St. Clair, lived life to the fulles. She died Tuesday at Magee-Womens Hospital. She was 45.
Even in death, she continued her fight -- she donated her body for cancer research at UPMC.
"To me, what made my sister stand out was she always gave so much to everything she did in life," said one of her sisters, Helen Humphreys of Ben Avon. "Even after she was diagnosed with cancer, even after cancer became part of her life, it never defined her."
In an e-mail to Carnegie Mellon faculty and staff announcing Ms. Humphreys' passing, Donald Marinelli lauded his colleague at the Entertainment Technology Center, where she became a professor in 2006.
"She was a born teacher who aspired to be a guide, mentor and sounding board for students," wrote Mr. Marinelli, co-founder of the ETC.
He noted that Ms. Humphreys' outreach to Carnegie Mellon employees diagnosed with cancer included him and his fellow ETC co-founder, the late Randy Pausch, the computer science professor whose famous "Last Lecture" about pancreatic cancer drew a global audience. Ms. Humphreys and Mr. Pausch corresponded via e-mail until his passing, Mr. Marinelli said.
"When I was diagnosed with parathyroid cancer in 2001, Anne Humphreys was immediately there for me," he said.
In 2002, Ms. Humphreys was awarded the Source of Life award by Magee-Womens Hospital for her work as a peer counselor. She founded the "Fighting Spirit" Web site -- www.fightingspirit.org -- a resource for cancer survivors.
Ms. Humphreys graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School in 1982 and from Washington and Jefferson College in 1986. In 1994, she received a master's degree in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon. Two years later, she received a master's degree from Carnegie Mellon in Communication Planning and Design.
In 1996, she joined the technical staff of Carnegie Mellon's Learning Systems Architecture Lab, becoming co-director in 2000 until April 2006, when she joined the ETC.
In addition to her sister, Ms. Humphreys is survived by her husband, Sammy Bertenthal; a son, Fernando Humphreys, at home; her parents, David J. and Lori Humphreys of Mt. Lebanon; two other sisters, Stephanie Humphreys of Austin, Texas, and Evelyn O'Keeffe of Minneapolis, Minn.; and a brother, David J. Humphreys of Los Angeles.
A memorial service will be held Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. at Old St. Luke's Church, 330 Old Washington Pike, Carnegie.
The family suggests donations in Ms. Humphreys' name to the local chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, 1133 S. Braddock Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15218, or to Anne Humphreys' Memorial Fund at Carnegie Mellon, in care of Sharon King, 5000 Forbes Ave., PPG 6, 11th Floor, Pittsburgh 15213.
First Published December 4, 2008 12:00 am