It is with heavy hearts that we announce Frederick S. Humphries, the eighth president of Florida A&M University, has passed away. Humphries became a popular president during his tenure at the university from 1985-2001. Learn more about the beloved president in a Tallahassee Democrat article by Byron Dobson and contributor Bill Cotterell.

Credit: Mark Wallheiser

Frederick S. Humphries, one of the most celebrated and revered presidents in Florida A&M University history, died Thursday in Orlando. He was 85. 

Humphries had been in declining health in recent years, but continued to bounce back. He served as Florida A&M University’s eighth president 1985-2001.

“It is with great difficulty and emotion that I share with you that my father, Dr. Frederick S. Humphries, former President of FAMU & TSU (Tennessee State University) passed away,” one of his sons, Laurence Humphries, posted on Facebook.

“Please know that he transitioned peacefully surrounded by family. More details for services will be provided once they are finalized. Thanks so much to everyone for the love and support to us in this difficult time.”

Former FAMU president Frederick S. Humphries (left) and FAMU interim president Larry Robinson laugh during a speech at FAMU’s Leon County Alumni Chapter 9th Annual Roast and Toast Scholarship Gala honoring Humphries. Democrat Files

Before returning as president to FAMU, where the Apalachicola native earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry in 1957, Humphries served as president of Tennessee State University in Nashville, from 1974-85.

“The dark clouds have indeed gathered on the horizon,” current FAMU President Larry Robinson said in a statement late Thursday. 

Humphries “is one of FAMU’s favorite sons,” he added. “He committed his life to the advancement of higher education, in particular within the HBCU (historically Black colleges and universities) community, and changed the trajectory of FAMU.

“We join the Humphries family, friends and Rattlers around the world in celebrating a life dedicated to service and one well lived.”

Congressman Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, called the 6-foot-7 Humphries “bigger than life. There will never be another like him.”

FAMU President Frederick Humphries applauds the accolades given by Miami representative Frederica Wilson during FAMU Day at the Capitol. Mike Ewen 

He said Humphries “brought FAMU to tremendous heights and really cared a lot for the students. People have celebrated him ever since he left the university and he was respected by the students, faculty and alumni for all he did for FAMU and HBCUs.

“He was not only a great educator; he never stopped being sort of a home boy from Apalachicola. He was also very well respected in the Legislature,” added Lawson, who also served in the state House and Senate 1982-2010. “He had an aura of respect around him at all times.”

The university said Humphries is survived by his son Frederick S. Humphries Jr., daughter Robyn Tanya Humphries as well as son Laurence Humphries, among other family members. His wife, Antoinette McTurner Humphries, died in 2006.