GALENA, Ks. (KSNF) – TAMKO Chairman Emerita Ethelmae Humphreys died Monday, December 27th at the age of 94.

She had fallen earlier in the day and was less than two weeks away from her highly anticipated 95th birthday.

She is the daughter of TAMKO founder E.L. Craig and worked for the building products manufacturer since 1948.

She was known to many as the “matriarch of the roofing industry” as a consistent presence in the roofing industry for nearly three-quarters of a century.

Throughout her life and career, my mother showed by example that family was the most important thing to her and that family values were foundational to the culture she helped to build at TAMKO. She was universally loved and revered by her family, employees and in the communities and circles of influence where she lived and worked. She was a measure of true grace and her compassion for others was unmatched. We mourn for our loss but we remain forever grateful for her presence in our lives and the lives of all those that she touched.

David Humphreys, TAMKO Chairman and CEO, and son of Ethelmae

Ethelmae Craig Humphreys

January 9, 1927 – December 27, 2021

Ethelmae Craig Humphreys passed away December 27, 2021, from injuries sustained in a fall earlier that
day. She was less than two weeks shy of her much anticipated 95th birthday. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 9, 1927, she was the only child of Ernest Leroy (“E.L.”) Craig of Lockport, New York, and Mary Ethel Crist of Wichita, Kan.

Considered the matriarch of the roofing industry, Ethelmae worked in the shingle manufacturing business most of her life, starting by sacking nails in a Kansas City shingle plant, and concluding with 73 years of service as Chairman Emerita at the company her father started, known today as TAMKO Building Products, LLC.

Ethelmae graduated from Westport High School in Kansas City, Missouri in 1944, and moved to Joplin,
Missouri with her parents where her father started TAMKO later that year. She then attended Monticello College in Godfrey, Illinois before transferring to the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas to study foreign languages. Ethelmae graduated from KU with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts in 1948. She was a member of Alpha Delta Pi. After graduation, Ethelmae returned to Joplin to work for TAMKO as her father’s health began to decline. To satisfy her father’s job requirement, she learned to take dictation and shorthand – such were the roles expected of women in the 1950s- attending Joplin Business College to learn business basics. She then worked for TAMKO as a payroll clerk, bookkeeper and secretary to her father beginning in 1948.

After her father suffered a stroke, Ethelmae was named executive vice-president and took control of the
day-to-day operations of TAMKO in 1950, at the age of 23. As she succeeded in a predominantly male
industry, confidently leading a major corporation as a 20-something woman in 1950s America, Ethelmae
often joked she was the only foreign language major who came home to run a shingle company.

In 1955, Ethelmae married John Pershing (“J.P.” or “Jay”) Humphreys, of Wichita. He preceded her in death on October 6, 1993. They had three children: David Craig, Sarah Jane, and John Patrick. Ethelmae left full-time work at TAMKO in the late 1950s to care for her children, with J.P. taking the lead at TAMKO. She served as TAMKO’s Chairman of the Board beginning in 1972 and returned to full-time work at the company in 1985. Ethelmae served as CEO after her husband’s death in 1993, until the couple’s oldest son, David, was named President and CEO the following year. In 2019, Ethelmae became Chairman Emerita, passing the reins of Chairman to her son, David, and in that same year TAMKO celebrated 75 years in business.

In 2021, she celebrated over 73 years of service with the company having continued to work on mostly a daily basis until the time of her death because, as she said:
TAMKO is like my home and I love my home. The office is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I
was the closest to my father, and then the closest to my husband Jay. It’s been a major part of my life. I
get the feeling of family closeness here and I’m proud of the organization and amazed by its growth and
success.

Along with her husband, Ethelmae continuously pursued manufacturing excellence and helped grow the
company from a small, local shingle manufacturer with two plants in Joplin, to one of the largest privately-owned roofing manufacturers in the U.S. and one of the top four asphalt shingle producers in the nation with more than a dozen plants in nine states, a nation-wide distribution system of warehouses and a diversified array of building products. Even more exceptional, however, were her pursuits outside the business.

Ethelmae was heavily influenced by her late husband’s study of and foundational belief in individual
liberty, free markets, and the pre-eminent importance of a good education. In addition to her work at TAMKO and her philanthropic efforts, she spent a lifetime actively advocating for liberty and free markets, supporting principles of freedom and free enterprise, and serving for decades on the boards of the Cato Institute, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, and the Foundation for Economic Education.

Ethelmae established two charitable foundations: the E.L. Craig Foundation in 1960 to honor her late father and the J.P. Humphreys Foundation in honor of her husband. She continued to serve as the President of both foundations until her death. Over the years, these foundations have generously donated to organizations on whose boards she served and other institutions supporting individual rights, community development, and civil society, including the Acton Institute, The Institute for Humane Studies, the Mackinac Center, and the Cato Institute.

She also focused many of her efforts close to home, supporting both Mercy and Freeman Hospitals as
well as academic institutions in her four-state-area community, including stepping forward to provide
significant funding to help rebuild Mercy Hospital after it was destroyed in the historic May 2011
tornado that ravaged her hometown of Joplin, Missouri.

In her personal life, Ethelmae was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She was a brilliant woman who chose to lay her business potential aside for a time to care for her children, even moving with them to Wichita, Kansas for several years to enable their attending the Wichita Collegiate School, which later served as the model for Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School in Joplin.

Until the day she passed, Ethelmae was an avid reader, devouring anything of substance she could get
her hands on. Her executive library is filled with free market libertarian titles such as Human Action by
Ludwig von Mises and The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek. She hosted a free market discussion club
with members of the community to discuss political paradigms and issues within the Joplin area and the
nation.

Until the time of her death, Ethelmae lived in the house that she and husband J.P. built in 1962. It was her home, she said, and she was happy there. She chose to surround herself in her everyday life with the people she loved – her office and her home were filled with pictures of family, friends and longtime coworkers, and of course, TAMKO-related events. She loved traveling (especially with friends and grandchildren) having visited seven continents from the 1950’s on the Queen Elizabeth into the 1990’s by the Concorde and continuing travels for the past 21 years to far flung places like Africa, China, Russia, the Middle East, and Antarctica. She hated missing a bridge game as she was an avid bridge player who studied bridge strategy often played 2-3 times a week and loved to win a quarter or a dollar or two. And she was a dedicated fan of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Ethelmae was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, former longtime TAMKO President Jay
Humphreys. She is survived by her three children: David (Debra), Sarah (Paul Atkins), and John (Martha); grandchildren Mary Evelyn, Jane (Tim Martin), Jacob Gutwillig (Victoria), William, Rebecca, Stewart Atkins, Peter Atkins, Henry Atkins, Rachel (Cameron Rice), J.T., Alex, and Bella; and several greatgrandchildren.

Service arrangements are pending.


News Release from TAMKO

GALENA, KANSAS – December 28, 2021 – Ethelmae Humphreys, 94, considered the matriarch of the roofing industry, died December 27. Ethelmae is the daughter of TAMKO-founder E.L. Craig, and she worked for the building products manufacturer since 1948. She had been a consistent presence in the roofing industry for nearly threequarters of a century.

Ethelmae worked in the roofing shingle manufacturing business most of her life, starting by sacking nails in a Kansas City shingle plant and concluding with 73 years of service as Chairman Emerita at the company her father started, known today as TAMKO Building Products, LLC. Ethelmae was named executive vice-president and took control of the day-to-day operations of TAMKO in 1950, at the age of the 23, after her father suffered a stroke. She succeeded in a predominantly male industry, confidently leading a major corporation as a 20-something woman in 1950s America, setting an example for women in the manufacturing and roofing industries.

Ethelmae left full-time work at TAMKO in the late 1950s to care for her children with her husband J.P. (Jay) Humphreys taking the lead at TAMKO. She served as TAMKO’s Chairman of the Board beginning in 1972 and returned to full-time work at the company in 1985. Ethelmae served as CEO after her husband’s death in 1993, until the couple’s oldest son, David, was named President and CEO the following year. In 2019, Ethelmae became Chairman Emerita passing the reins of Chairman to her son, David, and in that same year TAMKO celebrated 75 years in business. In 2021, she celebrated over 73 years of service with the company having continued to work on mostly a daily basis until the time of her death because, as she said: “TAMKO is like my home and I love my home. The office is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I was the closest to my father, and then the closest to my husband Jay. It’s been a major part of my life. I get the feeling of family closeness here and I’m proud of the organization and amazed by its growth and success.

David Humphreys, TAMKO Chairman and CEO, and son of Ethelmae said, “Throughout her life and career, my mother showed by example that family was the most important thing to her and that family values were foundational to the culture she helped to build at TAMKO. She was universally loved and revered by her family, employees and in the communities and circles of influence where she lived and worked. She was a measure of true grace and her compassion for others was unmatched. We mourn for our loss but we remain forever grateful for her presence in our lives and the lives of all those that she touched.”

TAMKO was Ethelmae’ s legacy as she guided its transition from one generation to another. She once referred to herself as the glue in TAMKO’s 77-year history, taking on the leadership role at the company during the difficult transitions after her father and her husband passed saying “I have been the glue between these men. I am their daughter, wife and mother. This business has been my life.” And TAMKO and its employees were always foremost in her thoughts.

Ethelmae, and later her husband Jay, helped grow TAMKO from a small, local shingle manufacturer with two plants in Joplin, to one of the largest privately-owned roofing manufacturers in the U.S. and one of the top four asphalt shingle producers in the nation with more than a dozen plants in nine states, a nation-wide distribution system of warehouses and a diversified array of building products. Even more exceptional, however, were her pursuits outside the business.

Some of her greatest accomplishments during her long career include the creation of TAMKO’s employee profit sharing plan in 1954, and the creation and management of both the E.L. Craig Foundation and J.P. Humphreys Foundation, charitable organizations that she funded and directed to donate millions of dollars for the support of individual rights, free enterprise, and civil society. She also focused much of her charitable giving close to home, supporting both Mercy and Freeman Hospitals as well as academic institutions in her four-state-area community, including stepping forward to provide significant funding to expand Freeman Hospital and to help rebuild Mercy Hospital after it was destroyed in the historic May 2011 tornado that
ravaged her hometown of Joplin, Missouri.

Ethelmae was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, former longtime TAMKO President, Jay (J.P.) Humphreys. She is survived by her three children: David (Debra), Sarah (Paul Atkins), and John (Martha); 12 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren