Retirement plans gone awry — in a good way

By RUSSELL VINEYARD Baker City Herald July 07, 2010 02:15 pm
Ken Humphrey, 71, retired to Baker City and promptly got involved in the school district

Ken Humphrey, 71, came to Baker City three years ago to retire.

Or so he thought.

After moving here from New Orleans, he quickly got involved with the Baker School District, making recommendations to the board about the district’s finances.

“They realized they didn’t have enough money to run it so I started working on the expenses to see where they could save money,” he said.

He said there were a lot of historic buildings that no one wanted to see out of commission, but the reality was the upkeep was more than the district could spend.

He helped to set up the Baker AllPrep Academy charter school, which is funded under the umbrella of the school district. Since the school started, he has worked as an administrator.

“Before that came along, I was quite happily retired,” he said.

Next on Humphrey’s “retirement to-do list” was to get kids in college.

“The district started a new twist called Early College. Students can take college courses for high school credit. Theoretically, you can get two years of college in before graduating high school,” he said.

He also said he is a big advocate of taking sports out of public schools and making them available through recreational facilities.

“You can either take out arts and music, or sports. It’s not a good position to take out arts over football. It isn’t to anyone’s advantage,” he said.

He said that after 15 years of college level employment, mostly in administrative roles, he decided he did not want to be a teacher.

“They aren’t gonna make me king so I can fix the school district, but I can make recommendations,” he said.

But it hasn’t ended there.

“I don’t like things going bad for kids,” he said, as if to segue into the next item on his to-do list.

Humphrey became involved as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), a program that mentors children who have come from troubled and possibly abusive homes. CASAs report their findings to the court.

“Judges in child cases are on the spot. They really need someone to tell them what is going on,” he said. “We want somebody who wants what is best for the child.”

Unlike child services, Humphrey said when he goes to meet with the children he does not need to schedule a visit.

“When I showed up sometimes (the parents) would get ticked off because I don’t have to call. There have been too many cases of child services not seeing what is really going on in the home,” he said.

Looking at Humphrey’s retirement to-do list, someone might speculate that his retirement has been all work and no play.

Not the case.

At home, his dog Blackie keeps him busy terrorizing the neighbors.

“When I moved here there were no other houses, so he could run free all over. And he thinks he still can,” he said. “But they don’t really mind.”

Humphrey also enjoys sailing and kayaking.

“Baker is a great place for sailing. Phillips Reservoir is one of the greatest assets of Baker County,” he said.

Humphrey also likes paintings, specifically those of artist LeRoy Neiman. Neiman is known for energetic paintings featuring sports such as sailing and the Kentucky Derby.

On the wall in his living room is a photograph of downtown Portland with Mount Hood in the background. The photograph had been retouched to appear as a painting.

Retirement years for Ken Humphrey have been busy. But at least he enjoys the work.