Mary Humphries, 83, homemaker and lifelong square dancer

Mary Humphries was not a “household name.” Her face never graced a campaign poster. She never lit up a Broadway stage. But her love of dance kept her — and those around her — on their toes.

A native of Portsmouth, England, she spent her early years at a company that made model race cars. Eventually, she met and wed Nelson “Ted” Humphries. When his engineering career took the family to Canada, she found a new love: square dancing.

Over the years, Ted Humphries’ work would take them to Paris, Tenn., and Panama City Beach, Fla. Mary Humphries was a full-time homemaker and worked part time in retail. They raised a son, Antony. And they kept dancing.

“She’d been square dancing since 1967, when our family first came over from England,” said Antony Humphries of Norcross. “She and my dad went to quite a few conventions.”

He added: “She was dancing up to last year. She liked the challenge of it and the exercise. She was quite the avid square dancer and made the majority of her outfits.”

Ted Humphries died in 2000. Mary Humphries moved in with her son, who said she remained active and alert. ”She had a very strong sense of humor and always had a good joke or a story. She was pretty sharp — she could do the daily crossword puzzle easily and even in her 80s, was quite independent,” he said.

Mary Humphries, 83, of Norcross died April 15 from complications of a brain tumor. A memorial service was held Thursday at Advantage Funeral and Cremation Services, Lilburn.

Humphries’ independence extended to the dance floor. According to her son, she danced for the past several years with Atlanta’s Hotlanta Squares. Antony Humphries said his mother “really enjoyed the group because the dancers all knew the dance moves and were quite proficient. There was always someone who would dance with her.”

Hotlanta Squares Club President Christie Ayotte said she did not know Mary Humphries well, but, “I can tell you that she was feisty, with a wicked sense of humor, and a good dancer. She attended several conventions and ‘fly-ins’ (weekend-long dances with people who fly in to participate).”

J.R. Jones, an Orlando photographer and a caller for Hotlanta Squares, called her “one of the first allies the group had.”

“She was always friendly and welcoming, and made sure new dancers would get up and dance and that everybody had fun,” Jones said. “She had a lively spirit.”

While Humphries’ hobby was all-American, she still loved all things British. She could make a shepherd’s pie, and for years, her son said, “She had a traditional English tea every day.”

Blanchie Smith of Panama City Beach was Humphries’ neighbor for several years. “She was a very caring, loving person, and just a good neighbor,” Smith said. “She was always there to help and would volunteer without being asked to do so.

“She carried on her traditions — she was very English — and was very willing to invite you into her home,” Smith said. “We would be out walking and would tease her. We’d say, ‘Mary, you’d walk faster if you didn’t stop and visit with everybody.’ She was very charismatic and quite the lady.”