Passages – Sybil Ruth Humphreys – 1943-2011

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Sybil Humphreys of Rapidan, VA and Morriston, FL lost her brief battle with pancreatic cancer on Saturday Oct. 22 at the young age of 68. The close knit driving community will miss Sybil’s mischievous sense of humor, kindness and fun loving spirit. 2011 was her best year ever with her welsh cob pony Cefnoakpark Bouncer, winning three out of the four events they entered at the Intermediate level, including the CAI Live Oak International Event in Ocala, Florida for the third time. As a Combined Driving competitor, Sybil was always impeccably turned out and took great pride in her stellar dressage tests, the foundation of her competitive career.

As a Combined Driving competitor, Sybil was always impeccably turned out and took great pride in her stellar dressage tests, the foundation of her competitive career. (photo: phelpsphotos.com)
As a Combined Driving competitor, Sybil was always impeccably turned out and took great pride in her stellar dressage tests, the foundation of her competitive career. (photo: phelpsphotos.com)

Sybil’s generosity became legendary when she loaned her incredible Welsh Cob pony, Cefnoakpark Bouncer, to Suzy Stafford to compete at the 2005 World Pony Driving Championships in Catton Hall, UK when the pony Suzy had qualified was injured. Sybil and Bouncer, who was qualified as well, were already in the UK. ‘Bouncer’ and Suzy’s brief time together culminated in the top score of 81 entries and an individual gold medal, the first individual Gold Medal for a World Championship for the United States in Combined Driving. In 2007, after Sybil had qualified Bouncer, Suzy and Bouncer competed at the World Pony Driving Championships in Denmark, helping to earn a Team Bronze Medal for the USA.

In 1993 at the then only advanced competition for driving in the United States, Humphreys and Chalkline finished 4th .
In 1993 at the then only advanced competition for driving in the United States, Humphreys and Chalkline finished 4th .

In 1979 while living in Maine, Sybil began riding her daughter Wendy’s Welsh Arab/Thoroughbred cross pony Chalkline after she had graduated from Pony Club, training with Lendon Gray and competed successfully to third level. It was during the time when Lendon was competing with another famous pony in Grand Prix Dressage, Seldom Seen. Sybil was then introduced to driving by fellow Mainer Larry Poulin riding with him in his carriage while he trained Mrs. Gardner’s Morgan pair. After the Humphreys moved to Virginia, Sybil began driving Chalkline with Bill Lower. In 1993 at the then only advanced competition for driving in the United States, Humphreys and Chalkline finished 4th . The Humphreys first pony lived a long life to the age of 31, passing away in 2008.

Sybil’s Bouncer was immortalized as a Breyer model (#707).
Sybil’s Bouncer was immortalized as a Breyer model (#707).

Bouncer was purchased in England as a three-year-old in 1999 who at the time was driven for pleasure by owner, including pub runs.. As a result of his accomplishments, winning the individual Gold Medal at the 2005 World Pony Driving Championships in Catton Hall, UK, Bouncer was one of only five equines in the USA named for the coveted Farnam Platform/USEF Horse of the Year award. The fairy tale story also earned Sybil’s Bouncer immortalization as a Breyer model (#707).

The success story continued with his owner whose devotion to the sport and her pony culminated in multiple ribbons and awards, one of which was the highly coveted 2008 “Hanzi Award” presented each year at Live Oak International CAIA for the best horse or pony at the competition, as chosen by the judges. For most of her 30 years, Larry Poulin, 8 times National Pairs Champion was on hand coaching Sybil to what was often the lead dressage score of the entire competition.

With Betsy Cowperthwaite as navigator there was a lot of laughter interspersed with the fleeting serious moments on course.(photo: phelpsphotos.com)
With Betsy Cowperthwaite as navigator there was a lot of laughter interspersed with the fleeting serious moments on course.(photo: phelpsphotos.com)

Anyone who watched Sybil compete came away with the knowledge that it was more about the fun and doing her best not necessarily just the wins. With Betsy Cowperthwaite as navigator there was a lot of laughter interspersed with the fleeting serious moments on course. The Humphreys trailer was a gathering point at competitions where snacks, drinks, and camaraderie were always plentiful.

Sybil is survived by her devoted husband Wayne of 40 years, her children Seth and Wendy and their families, and their extended family and friends in the driving world. Wayne retired four years ago and travelled with his wife to events, participating as carriage cleaner, pony grazer, and doing other odd jobs.

What is important to the family now is to spread the word about the disease of Pancreatic cancer which took Sybil’s life so quickly. “I implore everyone to learn more about pancreatic cancer, and to contribute funds so that we can better fight this devastating disease.” Wayne recently communicated in an e-mail. “It just is not fair that someone, so energetic and full of life was so rapidly consumed by such a horrible disease. We thank the Lord that Sybil, my love, is not suffering anymore.” Memorial contributions in Sybil’s name can be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network National Headquarters, 1500 Rosecrans Avenue, Suite 200, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 www.PanCan.org

Official Obituiary
Sybil Ruth Humphreys Sybil Ruth Humphreys, 68, of Willis Ford Road, Rapidan, Virginia, also of Morriston, Florida, died at her Virginia residence on Saturday, October 22, 2011. She was born on July 7, 1943, in Providence, Rhode Island, the daughter of the late John Workman and Fannie D. Groeneveld. An avid horseman and member of the United States Equestrian Federation, she was nationally ranked combined driving competitor. She enjoyed driving and training her pony, Cefnoakpark Bouncer, the first horse to win an individual world championship for the United States in combined driving. She was also a life member of the American Driving Society and a member of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Rapidan. She is survived by her husband, Wayne I. Humphreys of Rapidan; a daughter, Wendy Humphreys DeTorres and husband, Peter, of Virginia Beach; a son, Seth David Humphreys and wife, Vicki, of Richmond; two grandchildren, Makenna DeTorres of Virginia Beach and Veronica Humphreys of Richmond; a sister, Elizabeth Metzger and husband, John, of Scottsdale, Arizona; and a brother, John Workman and wife, Judith, of Fort Meyers, Florida. A memorial funeral service will be conducted 11 a.m. Saturday, October 29, 2011, at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Rapidan, Virginia. Interment will be private. The Reverend Phillip Morgan will officiate. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 1500 Roserans Avenue, Suite 200, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. For more information contact www.PanCan.org. Preddy Funeral Home of Orange is in charge of arrangements.




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